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Crowded House in fine form at House of Blues

Posted 12:40pm on Friday, Aug. 06, 2010

For longtime fans of singer-songwriter Neil Finn, the prime builder of the savvy pop band Crowded House, there was an especially poignant moment at the House of Blues Thursday night. Finn introduced his son, Liam, who came out and played guitar and sang on a few songs.

It was somewhat reminiscent of when, 30 years ago, Neil was introduced to the music world by his older brother, Tim, in the pioneering New Zealand outfit Split Enz. During the intervening years, Neil became one of rock's most respected, if still not widely known, singer-songwriters.

He proved it again Thursday with Crowded House, turning in a generous, two-hour, 15-minute set in front of an enthusiastic crowd that seemed to know the lyrics to all of the songs. Leaning heavily on material from the group's last two albums, Finn and three other House members (assisted occasionally by other musicians) fleshed out their McCartney-influenced style with flashes of rock power. Finn has turned into a nimble guitarist and even displayed a jazzy sensibility on the keyboards on such tracks as Archers Arrows, while the likes of Private Universe and Hole in the River took on a darker, heavier undertow.

This was Crowded House's first show in Dallas since the suicide of original drummer Paul Hester in 2005, and it was the affable Hester who in the past provided much of the group's humor onstage. While his spirit was definitely missed, the band still managed to be engaging while never letting the antics obscure the music.

It probably would have been nice to hear more older tracks, but it's hard to quibble when new songs such as Other Side of the World and Heaven That I'm Making are as good as anything Finn has done. Liam has a lot to live up to.

Cary Darling, 817-390-7571

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