A full house of 600 admiring devotees packed the Art Gallery foyer for the first of this year's series of performances in the State Gallery.
A bonus incentive was a private showing of the much-vaunted Picasso to Warhol exhibition. (Entrance usually $19.00), prior to the show.
While I applaud the concept of luring possible new patrons to the venue there was one major problem; the venue was designed for art and not musical performance. The marble surrounds looked great but being rock hard they bounced shockingly. Look around any concert venue of worth and you will see fabric (seats, walls, curtains etc); absorbent and cushioning, a perfect medium with which the sound engineer can work.
In addition the audience themselves gave the sound technician a further headache. There was minimal seating. Many of the crowd were people who had followed Tim Finn from his Split Enz, Crowded House days and were close to his own recently celebrated 60th birthday themselves .
Once a large group of patrons herded up to the stage, standing and thus obstructing any view of Finn and his excellent two guitarists many audience members retired to the rear, close to the bar and chatted right through the show. This resulted in the sound being turned up and 90% of the clarity of diction was muffled. Highly frustrating!
A sparky Lucy Peach was the support act, accompanied by John Wilson on guitar and John Brown on percussion. She was resplendent in slinky gold lurex and a mannish chapeau and possessed a lovely timbre to her voice. The songs seemed to be all originals and she accompanied herself on guitar. At that stage I was inclined to fault her diction but as became apparent it was the sound at fault. A pity. I would have liked to know what she was singing about.
To acclaim, Tim Finn took the stage and began with a selection of newer songs. As ever, a poetic songwriter, these were songs of reminiscences for example the lovely People Like Us. I managed to catch the line "Raise a glass together for dreams that still alive." And I Still Believe In You, (After All These Years.)
Finn's voice is still in excellent nick, his range is great and he worked the room like a Trojan. Sweat dripped from his brow as he lead us though a well thought out selection, varying the pace, throwing in a few old favourites that more than stood the test of time; Can I Have Another Piece of Chocolate Cake, with the highly apt reference to "another cheap Picasso". Six Months in a Leaky Boat had the crowd jigging, erupting in cheers and clapping along.
By the time we hit song ten, Everywhere You Go, either the crowd had stopped talking and started listening or the sound had reached a far improved level. Probably a bit of both.
The lyrical Everybody's Wrong was a lovely number and showcased some tasty guitar work by Brett Adams.
It was a generous serve of songs, 15 in all, with only brief intros and chat – I just wish I could have heard what he was saying. Rounding off the show with three iconic numbers, It's only Natural, Made My Day and sending us home with the soothing I Hope I Never. The extended versions of these numbers allowed both accompanying guitarists, Adams and Tony Buchen on bass to offer up some wonderful solo moments
Full marks to the Art Gallery for giving these gigs a go. The concept is a good one; art and music, the ambience was great, the food and wine service very professional. Just after 4 years they really need some way to assist improving the acoustics.
One show only. Sold Out
Venue: ARTBAR | Art Gallery of Western Australia
Date: 5 July, 2012