Neil Finn & Friends

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Neil Finn & Friends

7 Worlds Collide: Live at the St. James (Nettwerk) His voice barely reveals the rasp of 20 years. It's still clear and bright, one of the prettiest of our generation, a crooning troubadour with a boyish grin along the lines of Bono, Morrissey, or that guy from Squeeze. And he's been busy, this gentleman from New Zealand: first in New Wave's art rockers Split Enz, next as leader of Eighties sensation Crowded House, and then solo, with 1998's Try Whistling This. This year, he's pulling out the big guns; his second solo recording cum supergroup features ex-Revolution-aries, Wendy & Lisa, Midnight Oil's Jim Moginie, Jim Keltner, Sheryl Crow, and Mitchell Froom, among others. That solo LP, One Nil is due out in the U.S. in May as a slightly different disc called One All. This album is an altogether different supergroup meeting of Finn and friends, a live gathering for five nights in Auckland, New Zealand, featuring Lisa Germano, the Smiths' Johnny Marr, Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway, Eddie Vedder, brother Tim, and son Liam doing songs from the Finn back catalog and beyond. High points include new numbers with Germano's Finn-tastic harmonies, "The Climber" and "Anytime," a Finn brothers duet on Crowded House's "Angels Heap," Finn singing the Smiths tune "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," and showstopping art-punk Frenzy-era Enz blazer "I See Red," with a convincingly twitchy Eddie Vedder singing like he had just traded his comfy flannel for too-tight peg-legs. It all makes for a jolly good show and a darned listenable live CD and makes us wonder who will join him on stage in Austin. (Friday, March 15, Austin Music Hall, 11pm)

*** .5

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