Crowded House's concert at the Warner Theatre Saturday night was the kind of show no one wanted to see end. And for a while, at least, it looked as if it wouldn't. The encore alone lasted nearly as long as a typical set, and by evening's end the members of the pop rock trio (plus guest keyboardist Eddie Rayner) were joined onstage by their wives, children, crew and the opening act, Paul Kelly and the Messengers. It was the last night of the band's extensive American tour, and they wrapped it up with a glorious bang.
Since its last visit here, the group has enjoyed a series of hit singles, all of them equipped with catchy choruses that Saturday's crowd found irresistible. Clearly, New Zealander Neil Finn's specialty is melodic pop songs that recall the Beatles' mid-'60s period without sounding overly derivative. Many of them, including "Hole in the River" and "Mean to Me," are drawn from personal experiences and, despite their tunefulness, possess a distinctly melancholy edge. Finn's yearning voice easily conveyed the emotion implicit in these songs, but it also proved well suited to a variety of different styles, ranging from vaudevillian camp to Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away." Moreover, the band's antics onstage, especially those of drummer Paul Hester, enlivened the show immensely.
Paul Kelly and the Messengers, an Australian band that appears tonight at the Bayou, delivered a set of well-crafted songs bridging pop, rock, blues and folk music.
-- Mike Joyce