Crowded House

Friday, Sept. 14, Zilker park

ACL Music Fest Live Shots
Photo by Jay West

Crowded House

Detractors claim that Crowded House's latest LP, Time on Earth, the Aussie quartet's first in 13 years, suffers a lack of pop punch, possessing a stifling, melodramatic ambience. From the first notes of this performance, it appeared as though Neil Finn and company were bent on eradicating that complaint with the brisk "Mean to Me." Yet despite occasional moments of merriment – a passing cloud providing a few raindrops to initiate "Weather With You" and the first of several jolly sing-alongs – all too often the group was mired in a midtempo haze that undercut their delicious melodic hooks. Even a midset rendition of "Don't Dream It's Over," their biggest hit, couldn't hold the audience's attention. Those down front had a fabulous time, however, which led the band – augmented by Neil's son Liam – to reprise a couple of tunes after seemingly finishing them so that the audience participation could continue. It wasn't until the set-closing bounce of "World Where You Live" that the energy returned, a bit late but most welcome.

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