Crowded House picked a bad time to have an off night.
Although the New Zealand pop band’s latest Capitol album, “Together Alone,” has so far been a sales disappointment, when the quintet arrived in Los Angeles last week, it was met with the usual high expectations.
But this just wasn’t their night. Seemingly still suffering the effects of a too-recent continent-jumping plane trip, Crowded House lacked much of the enthusiasm that gives the band, and leader Neil Finn’s post-Lennon/McCartney pop , their renowned stage magic.
With much of the show’s energy reserved for between-song clowning, there was little life left for many of the band’s moving songs of love, dreams and spiritual fantasy.
Of course, Crowded House on an off night is still a relatively entertaining affair. Finn’s sweet, melodic words, matched by his equally sweet, occasionally soaring voice, the group’s polished musical chops and an enduring sense of humor (goofy percussionist Paul Hester breaks many stereotypes regarding drummers) position the band ahead of its contemporaries.
Best moments included the rock-solid pop hooks of “In My Command” and “Whispers and Moans,” from 1991’s “Woodface” album, the McCartney-esque “Into Temptation” and “Fall at Your Feet,” one of Finn’s most accomplished songwriting efforts.
The rockin’ “Catherine Wheels,” featuring utility musician Mark Hart on table slide guitar, and new single “Distant Sun,” complete with disrespectful barbs aimed at the Broadway production of the Who’s “Tommy,” were also highlights of the 100-minute show.
But they weren’t enough to make up for a less-than-fulfilling concert.