(4 Mar 2014: Union Pool Brooklyn, NY)
In the cozy back room that is Union Pool’s concert space, Liam Finn began his four-Tuesday-night March residency on the 4th after a set by his special guests Zula. It only cost $10 to get in and while the space hadn’t sold out, it felt cozy inside. Finn worked with a couple different permutations of a backing band, including Eliza-Jane Barnes and bassist Ernie Brooks, to perform songs off his first two albums (I’ll Be Lightning and Fomo and an EP (Champagne in Seashells) as well as new and unreleased songs from his forthcoming album The Nihilist out on Yep Roc next month.
Finn is the son of Neil Finn (of Crowded House and Split Enz) and the Kiwi splits his time between New Zealand and New York. Recently returned from his home country, Finn was eager to get on stage and build up anticipation for his third album with an hour and twenty minute or so set. The lighting was spare, keeping the band minimally visible, save for a few songs when a random projector threw its light on stage without any discernible visuals.
Finn and Barnes kicked things off with a performance of three songs together, warming up the audience first with “Fire in Your Belly” from Lightning. The anticipation many held for this gig was visible on their faces, as they mouthed words from the older songs all night. Following “Wise Man”, Finn joked that he should do the residency every week in perpetuity, before he welcomed out the rest of the band.
Although Finn had never sounded like a novice on his earlier releases, the dynamics of the covers and the newer songs showed more polish and a refreshed take on his sound. A cover of The Modern Lovers “She Cracked” followed and with the trombone blasting, it was a riotous moment, a first but not the last, of the show. It was when after Finn performed his latest single “Snug as Fuck” and a new song “Ocean Emmanuelle” that he gave the audience the highlight. “4 Track Stomper” had Finn freaking out, flailing and stomping in an unconstrained manner amidst the beats and the projector’s switching colors.
The show made for a fun evening and was a successful opportunity to engage with Finn on a small scale. His humorous banter and his engaging stage presence promises confidence in the music of The Nihilist. While I hadn’t been to Union Pool in ages (possibly since August 2008, when I covered one of my earliest events ). I would consider going again for Finn (except for the late for a weeknight start. Finn will be there all of the next three Tuesdays .