The song and performer match-ups were mostly brilliant. Paul Dempsey’s emphatic delivery was a perfect fit for the manic Chocolate Cake and I See Red, Sally Seltmann’s light touch breezed through I Hope I Never, and you couldn’t ask for anyone better, inside or outside this line-up, than Sarah Blasko to perform the quirky and whimsical Pineapple Head.
Then there were those ingenious alternative arrangements. The delirious slide guitar on Pineapple Head was a masterstroke, and the spare, droning electronic backing on Don’t Dream It’s Over, coupled with the substitution of vocal harmony (featuring all the performers) for the song’s organ solo, changed the classic into a kind of Phillip Glass gospel piece. Naked vocal harmonies were put to even more stunning effect when Blasko, Seltmann and Holly Throsby united to perform Sinner.
My personal highlight was Lior’s performance of Unsinkable, which featured some great use of timpani and glockenspiel. While you could argue forever over who is the best entertainer of this line-up, by the end of the show Lior had certainly proved himself the strongest vocalist.
There were a few misfires, though, such as the lacklustre Alexander Gow/Claire Bowditch collaboration on Something So Strong, where neither seemed capable of singing the refrain in its original key. Although Bowditch’s personal magnetism is hard to underestimate, she seemed to approach her performances tonight as ‘a bit of fun’ rather than anything requiring genuine conviction. (Though, to be fair, I missed what I later heard was a great rendition of Fall At Your Feet)
Occasionally you got the feeling that the artists’ fear of stepping on each other’s toes was resulting in some deliberately restrained performances. The otherwise great, all-in finale of Weather With You, for example, sorely lacked the sing-along that at least one of the performers needed to step up to encourage.
While my verdict for this particular show is good, but not great, I’m very keen to see the Finn brothers gala tribute concept continuing into the future. Let’s wait a couple years, reshuffle the line-up and see what happens.
LOVED: As always, Lior.
HATED: Driving halfway to Brighton for parking.
DRANK: I don’t.