Concert review: Crowded House wows at Ruth Eckerd Hall (with pics + setlist)

Share on Nextdoor

Neil Finn: what's not to love? The 52-year-old singer-songwriter from New Zealand has delighted his faithful followers for 30-plus years with his mastery of pop music and his gorgeous voice. Since his early days as a young lad and member of pop giants Split Enz, Finn has held a firm grasp on the right amount of charisma, wit and talent. And judging from his bold display of all three of those elements Wednesday night fronting Crowded House at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Neil Finn shows no signs of losing his unique mojo.

Taking the stage promptly at 9 p.m. sharp, the four members of Crowded House (or "Crowdies" as they're referred to by their rabid fans) started the evening with a nugget from their 1986 self-titled debut, "World Where You Live," and then immediately launched into "Saturday Sun," the first single from their exquisite new album, Intriguer.  Never ones to shy away from digging deep into their catalog, Crowded House are one of the few touring bands who can seamlessly blend older material with newer stuff, throw in a few covers along the way, and inject their sets with their fair share of silliness  while somehow still managing to make it all sound great. And that type of loose, unscripted vibe is a huge part of what has always drawn diehard fans to this band. Admittedly, the house wasn't so crowded for this show; the hall looked to be only about half-full. Whether that was due to the bizarre coincidence of there being so many other top-name acts in town on the same night or inclement weather, those who didn't take advantage of seeing Crowded House on this rare Florida tour stop really missed out. The irony is that those who were in attendance more than made up for the paltry turnout. While singing along and cheering wildly, the small but passionate crowd let their appreciation be known. And heard.

And the band delivered plenty for them to cheer about. Boasting an impeccable sound system and flawless harmonies, the band performed on a stage set that looked to be inspired by a tacky 1960's style rumpus room. Complete with kitschy lighted plastic animals and a backdrop that resembled faux wood paneling, the humor of the band was as clear as the purity of Finn's longing vocals. Shifting gears from a tender ballad ("Fall At Your Feet") to an inspired rocker ("Locked Out") is no challenge for Neil Finn. He and bassist Nick Seymour, drummer Matt Sherrod and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart tackle every number, regardless of pace or tempo, with equal fervor and somehow recreate their studio recordings with eerie precision. Admittedly, I got a little verklempt when the band launched into "Message To My Girl," a 1983 Split Enz single that boasts one of the loveliest  piano lines and catchiest choruses in the history of pop music. "I'll try it ... I'll have to sing kind of high" Finn apologetically lamented before beginning. And wouldn't you know it ... he nailed it! High vocal parts and all. That's the type of night it was.

Surprise appearances by Finn's wife Sharon (for backing vocals on "Isolation") and his son Liam, a recording artist in his own right, added to the folly of the evening. Liam took lead vocals on a faithful cover of Neil Young's "Old Man," which was dedicated to Young's longtime steel guitar player Ben Keith, who passed away earlier in the week. A completely impromptu version of The Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon" was enthusiastically received as well.

Not ones to leave out the songs that most casual fans know them for, the band gladly obliged and performed note perfect versions of "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong" within the main set. The five-song encore brought the entire crowd to it's feet and the evening ended with "Better Be Home Soon," my personal favorite Crowded House song. I was as inspired and dazzled as all those in attendance, judging from the state of euphoria that everyone was still in as the houselights came up. Neil Finn: what's not to love?

Set List

World Where You Live

Saturday Sun

Either Side of the World

Don't Stop Now

Fall At Your Feet

Distant Sun

Twice If You're Lucky

Message To My Girl (Split Enz)


In My Command

Hole In The River

Don't Dream It's Over

Say That Again (with Liam Finn)

Silent House

Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)

Four Seasons In One Day

When You Come

Something So Strong


Weather With You

Old Man (with Liam Finn)

Locked Out

Not The Girl You Think You Are

Better Be Home Soon

More pics by Jeff:


About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
Scroll to read more Music News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.