New Zealand pop royal Neil Finn has always enjoyed making music with other Finns. As a youngster growing up in the town of Te Awamutu, on New Zealand’s North Island in the 1960s and 1970s, family gatherings would see him performing with his brother Tim. Six years Tim’s junior, Neil looked up to the older boy and decided at the age of 12 to be a musician like his brother.
“We’d sing all night,” Neil remembers in Jeff Apter’s 2010 biography of the Finn brothers Together Alone. “It was very much part of our upbringing… That was the first inkling of the seduction of live performance.”
When Tim left home for boarding school, Neil practised on a guitar his brother had left behind, and went on to play gigs in local hospitals and prisons. The brothers would again be reunited in key new wave band Split Endz, and also occasionally in Crowded House, the wildly successful band Neil formed with Split Enz drummer Paul Hester in 1985. The band’s biggest hit, 1992’s then-ubiquitous Weather With You was written by both Neil and Tim, and in 1994 the pair released Finn, an album mainly written during a three-week break from Crowded House.
Another Finn Brothers album, the haunted Everyone Is Here, followed in 2004. With Tim now mainly focused on writing for the stage – notably Star Navigator for New Zealand Opera and Ladies In Black, a musical for Queensland Theatre Company – Neil has since looked to the considerable talents of his own immediate family.
In 2007, when Crowded House reformed and reconfigured themselves in the wake of Hester’s death, Neil’s son Liam became part of the touring band. Since then, both Liam and younger brother Elroy play regularly with their father, who also happens to have an outfit with his wife Sharon. Finding themselves at a loss when their boys left home to make their own way in music, the pair called themselves Pajama Club[CORR] as: “we were dressed in our pyjamas when we started”.
All of which makes Lightsleeper, Neil’s debut album collaboration with Liam, feel a long time coming. After all, Liam already has respectable body of acclaimed solo work behind him: 2007’s I’ll Be Lightning, 2011’s FOMO, and The Nihilist three years ago, each album becoming more singular, more eccentric.
“I think it’s probably taken this long, because I’ve been doing my own thing,” Liam told an interviewer ahead of the release of Lightsleeper in August 2018.
The origins of Lightsleeper came three years previously, at Liam’s wedding on a Greek island. Neil performed the loved-up Island Of Peace – now Lightsleeper’s majestic opener – a song Neil had written specifically to celebrate the occasion.
Reports say Elroy was dressed as a Greek god, trident in hand, as Liam was raised aloft by a member of the wedding party. Spirits apparently got so high that the groom was left temporarily unconscious with a dislocated thumb.
Later, as it healed, father and son worked on Lightsleeper, a dreamy, sumptuous record intended to mark the generational shift that came with Liam’s marriage and the subsequent birth of Neil’s first grandchild.
It’s fitting then, that Liam is given the lead on the record, his more textural compositions given form by his father’s sharp sense for melody. For now, this is the only date Neil and Liam bring the lush, romantic record live to Scotland: later this month Neil heads out on a US tour with Fleetwood Mac, the guitarist having been announced last year as replacement for Lindsey Buckingham alongside Mike Campbell of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers.
Source : HeraldScotland