I recently had the pleasure of seeing Neil and Liam Finn play at the Queens Hall here in Edinburgh.
The former is one of my all time favourite songwriters. Crowded House at the Edinburgh Playhouse was the first gig that I ever went to, and I’ve followed his career ever since, both in terms of new releases and retrospectively dipping back into the Split Enz back catalogue.
He always puts on a great live show, but this one felt slightly different. Sure, there were four Finns on stage making up the band (wife Sharon and younger son Elroy joining in the fun), but that wasn’t particularly new to me.
In the last few years Neil Finn has cast off the shackles of having to answer to record companies, and has started to do his own thing. He’s experimented with his music and who he has played with. He has gone where he wants to go, and not where people expect him to.
The results have seen him record an album with Sharon to shake off the blues of their kids leaving home, take to the internet for four live sessions to record a solo album with an array of contributors, tour where and when he wants to, and even join the behemoth that is Fleetwood Mac.
It feels like Neil Finn is doing what Neil Finn wants to do at the moment. He’s submitted himself to wherever creativity takes him.
And you can see it in his live performances. I’ve yet to come away from any concert involving Neil where I haven’t felt that he’s given 100%, but the other week he was as relaxed and as ready to play as i’ve ever seen him. The set list mixed up Split Enz, Crowded House, Pajama Club (the aforementioned collaboration with Sharon), some of Liam’s songs, Neil’s solo stuff and of course, the recent album they produced together. The theramin was brought out for some overly dramatic playing. Hell, all four members of the band were all sporting their own black and white chequed suits.
The Personal Goal
I can’t help but envy. For a lot of reasons, both mentally and demands-wise, I struggle at the moment to be able to follow that fully creative path. To explore ideas as they come up, and see where they go without the pressure of there being an end or an outcome.
It’s something I’m working on, but too often the paid jobs take prominence. Which they should of course, but part of the appeal of being self-employed was the freedom to do more of my own creative projects.
It’s all about value. If that is only imposed on the work that pays the bills, there is a danger that it has an impact on the creativity you do for that work, as well as what you do for yourself.
It requires a different discipline. To have faith in taking that leap. Not holding your breath as you go. In wearing a black suit with thing white cheques across it and starting up Better Be Home Soon because someone in the crowd shouts for it.
It’s a goal for 2019. It feels like the key to moving forward.
And no, I’m not going to finish on a Neil Finn pun. Because that would be predictable, and fly against what I’ve just said.
Now we’re getting somewhere.