This year marks 40 years since the release of True Colours, the album which made eccentric pop creators, Split Enz, into proper pop stars. You can get the coloured vinyl reissue of that record now (or buy two and donate one to me … just sayin’) and it’s unlikely you’ll regret a second of it.
In the mean time you can read about one night in 2006 when Split Enz, nearly 22 years after calling it quits, reformed – with both Finns, Noel Crombie, Nigel Griggs, Malcolm Gree and Eddie Rayner – and made nostalgia perfectly acceptable.
Entertainment Centre, June 8
If you are going to do a nostalgia/reunion tour and don't want to be an embarrassment you better be certain all your ducks are in a row.
Make sure you've got enough good songs that people will remember but that won't make you gag to play yet again.(Human League for example found a 70 minute set was about half an hour past the natural limit.)
Ensure that all of you can still play and keep playing. (The pathetic figures of Peter Criss and Ace Frehley on recent Kiss tours made that telling point.)
At least pretend performing together is what you still love, not just the money. (And good morning to you gentlemen of the Eagles.)
All ducks are accounted for with Split Enz.
From the gloriously silly way they arrived on stage, grouped under a silver blanket so they looked like a giant jelly fish, to the climax of the first encore, when percussionist/eccentric heart of the band Noel Crombie went all Jimi Hendrix on Neil Finn's guitar before the rest of the band "rescued" it by dragging him off, it is obvious they enjoy playing and working together.
While Neil Finn seemed flu afflicted and brother Tim's voice doesn't quite have all the old swoops and whirls, both sang vibrantly and around them everyone else was on song particularly the great Eddie Rayner on keyboards. Whether shifting shapes in the prog-like Jamboree, doing the funky white man with Take A Walk or delicately making space in Stuff And Nonsense this is a bunch of musicians with touch and flair.
As for songs, obviously it's hard to go wrong when you have a dozen or so hits of the calibre of Six Months In A Leaky Boat, History Never Repeats, Dirty Creature and I Got You. But the deeper satisfaction for band and fans comes in also being able to deploy music as interesting as the jerky snap of Shark Attack, the pre-war melodies of Charlie and I Hope I Never (you can imagine Rudy Vallee once sang them) and the rambunctious rave up of Bold As Brass.
So while there were seven songs from the band's biggest selling album True Colours, a set list of 26 songs over two hours meant that this was never a one note/one era performance. Which leaves the final question for every reunion/nostalgia tour: does it convince you that you weren't mistaken first time around and this was a great pop band? Well if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck ….