Live shows from long ago… Split Enz

Split Enz, Town Hall, Wellington, New Zealand.

Evening Post, 20/2/80

In one of his first live reviewing assignments, in 1980 GARY STEEL was sent to check out the triumphant return of “the Enz”.

Split Enz played to an ecstatic, frenzied mob of fans in last night’s Town Hall concert. The packed audience showed their adulation by filling the aisles before show time in readiness for the steamy, sweaty dance-bath of bodies soon to eventuate.

A taped intro, dry ice swirled the stage, and on entrance of the Enz the crowd rose as one to worship their heroes – local boys come home.

 

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Split Enz, on this their “trooping of the colours” tour, stick almost exclusively to recent material. No looking back for these chaps. ‘Double Happy’, ‘How Can I Resist here?’, ‘What’s The Matter With You’, ‘Nobody Takes Me Seriously’ (which leader Tim Finn dedicates to “all those who’ve got a job they don’t like doing… like making sausages”), ‘I Wouldn’t Dream Of It’, ‘I Hope I Never’, ‘I Got You’ and ‘Shark Attack’ all reside on the new True Colours album.

But only the ballad ‘I Hope I Never’ benefits from the live treatment, gaining a faster tempo with “cocktail drumming, for all those who are trying to forget.”

Abysmal sound quality massacres most of these new songs, which are largely dependent on subtle nuances unheard in the circumstances, and an energy which the rhythm section – Malcolm Green (drums) and Nigel Griggs (bass) fail to emit.

The remaining music came from the previous two albums, last year’s Frenzy (‘Marooned’, ‘I See Red’, ‘Body & Soul’, ‘Give It A Whirl’, ‘Hermit McDermit’ and ‘Frenzy’) and Dyzrhythmia (‘Charley’ and ‘My Mistake’).

All fine, rousing stuff, but ‘tis a pity that songs with more depth – ‘Poor Boy’, for example – were not aired.

Split Enz were only on for an hour and 20 minutes – which for them is peculiarly short – but they still gave their most and, in general, performed magnificently.

The throngs had certainly not come to demand or criticise, they had come to say an overdue “Thanks Enz, for sticking around. We love ya!”

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