Carrying on in the tradition of an unfortunately all-too-thin line of thinking person’s tunesmiths, Neil Finn emerges from the ashes of yet another quirky, briefly successful but largely overlooked antipodean pop band — Crowded House — touring to drum up interest in his solo debut, “Try Whistling This” (WORK Group/Sony).
Hues such as burnt orange and prison-color blue, projected on a simple backdrop, adequately complemented much of the moody solo material performed in the 90-minute set as well as the many songs gleaned from the four slightly more accessible Crowded House efforts and the one-off collaboration with his brother Tim.
Ever ready with myriad song dedications (to Tim, former House mate Paul Hester, Monica Lewinsky, someone in the crowd proposing to their companion, and nearly everyone who floated a paper airplane missive onstage), his quick wit helped as he struggled occasionally to keep the audience’s interest near the level engendered to his former groups’ hits.
A prime example was the hard-earned call-and-response he willfully muscled out of the “laid-back L.A.” crowd at the end of “Sinner,” the first single from the disc and a song with a refrain that’s far from a party chant. But sing and clap along they did, and were ultimately rewarded for their participation with such faves as “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “I Got You.”
One of the more interesting members of the malleable band — multi-instrumentalists nearly all, as is Finn — was his 14-year-old son Liam, supplying various electric guitar support and showcasing the family’s gifted musical gene pool at work yet again.