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Mount Eerie at the Christ Church Cathedral

Aug 18 2017. Kirk Chantraine photos.

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Preview – Crowded House

We came across a sweet blog (well, actually, “mog”) post written by contributor Erin Hanson a few years back and we thought we’d share it with you prior to the Crowded House show at Queen Elizabeth Theatre this Sunday (Aug 29). The band’s new album, Intriguer, includes one of fave pop songs of the year so far – ‘Twice if You’re Lucky’. Visit TicketMaster for tickets.

– by Erin Hanson

In late summer 2007, Crowded House played the Malkin Bowl. The rain was torrential; a downpour greeted the band as they took to the stage. But there was something so uplifting about that gig – we couldn’t stop singing, dancing, smiling. The energy was so contagious, even Neil Finn laughed with surprise at our spirit in the rain, and remarked at how honoured he was that we stood out there quite happily drenched in order to watch them.

A good friend of mine is from New Zealand and met me at the show. (He happily paid an extortionate price for his ticket – anything was worth Crowded House, he told me.) He brought along a Kiwi friend of his who was visitng from home.

After a positively heartwarming show (quite literally; we hardly noticed the cold of the incessant rain), I turned around to face my two Kiwi ex-pats.

“So?!” I asked the two young men.

Chris looked at me with damp eyes.

“… I miss my mum,” was all he said. We laughed.

I didn’t know much about Crowded House, but I grew up with some of their international hits. I listened to them a lot more when I was in Australia. Their music was ubiquitous over there, and I loved it all. I didn’t know much about the band though, or their history, even though many Aussies and Kiwis know the saga of the band from Split Enz to guest appearances on the Wiggles.

I live with an Australian, who, like my Kiwi friend from the Crowded House concert, tears up a little when he hears me play Crowded House. It reminds him of home. It surprised me, as he tends to listen to heavy metal. I told him about their show in Stanley Park, but he said he probably wouldn’t have gone. “It’s just not the same without Hessie,” he said sadly. He was referring to their original drummer, Paul Hester, a natural comedian and a central force of the band. Hessie, despite being a constant source of comic relief, strugged with depression and committed suicide in 2005.

Crowded House got their name from a house in LA they all lived and played in during the band’s early days, after Split Enz. Going with this theme, the video for “Don’t Dream It’s Over” features each member in his own house; from various family homes from childhood to present day’s “crowded house.”

I love this idea. It’s like a tribute to where we come from; the places we grew up, the places and people that have influenced us to be where we are today. (As they sing in “Silent House”, “Who do we become without knowing where we started from?”)

One song from that rainy concert stood out to me. It was a new one I had never heard before, but it captivated me with it’s beautiful, haunting melody. After some searching, I found it to be “Silent House”.)

“Silent House” has got to be one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics have reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. I’ve learned that Neil Finn co-wrote it with the Dixie Chicks, about Natalie Maines’ grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. However, I can’t help but think it could easily also be about Hessie. Once I learned about the origin of the band’s name, the song title “Silent House” is absolutely heartbreaking:

I will try to connect all the pieces you left
I will carry it on, and let you forget
I remember the years when your mind was still clear
All the laughter and light that filled up this silent house.

I find that artists take on entirely new dimensions when you bring in the context of their lives; their character, their influences. As I was learning more about Paul Hester, I found this tribute at the ARIA awards just months after his death. I found it very moving, and am amazed that Neil Finn was able to finish the song without even shedding a tear. I’m sure most of that audience were reaching for tissues afterward!

Ah, Crowded House has produced some fine, fine music.

My Australian roommate is going on a roadtrip in a few days. I’m just about to burn him a copy of Recurring Dream, the Very Best of Crowded House. What an absolute essential.

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