Where do I begin? I want to get this right …
Do I start waaaaay back in 1980, as I sat watching Countdown and saw THIS and ABBA suddenly lost their magic for me …
(And simultaneously discovered … at age 13 … what hormones could do to a girl …)
Or do I fast forward to last night – more 40 years later – as I sat watching Neil Finn play the piano on a small stage at the Seymour Centre in Sydney singing THIS and it made me cry …
(We weren’t allowed to take videos so you’ll have to make do with the divine original version.)
I don’t want to say I love you
That would give away too much
Hip to be detached and precious
The only thing you feel is vicious
I don’t wanna say I want you
Even though I want you so much
It’s wrapped up in conversation
Whispered in a hush
Though I’m frightened by the word
Think it’s time that it was heard
I think I should start at the beginning …
OK, so, there was a TV show called Countdown and a band called Split Enz … and a teen obsession was born.
It involved me doing a lot of staring at this picture, particularly the 24-year-old second from the right (my horn for skinny blokes with shaggy fringes remains to this day).
And spending nights standing in the lighting booth at the Newcastle Workers Club watching the band perform – after desperate parental wrangling – because I was too young to attend a licensed venue.
There was the hysteria when my dad tore my copy of RAM magazine with Split Enz on the cover because there were four-letter words inside. Followed by dad negotiating with scalpers outside a music venue to score tickets to Split Enz so he could (secretly) make it up to me.
There were the afternoons spent lying on my best friend’s bed, sharing fantasies about Neil Finn falling in love with me and Tim Finn falling in love with her when we met them while they were performing on a cruise.
There was wearing an armband to school because Split Enz were breaking up and being teased mercilessly and not caring.
There was a farewell concert in Speers Point Park that none of my friends were allowed to attend because it was the HSC … so my mum took me and got a thrill out of being breath tested on the way in and being gawped at by Tim Finn as she stood jammed against the stage with her powder blue cardy and grey, immaculately coiffed blow-dry.
There was a band that came next called The Mullanes that lasted a blink of the eye but just long enough for me – and maybe 20 other people – to watch perform at Belmont 16 Footers.
There was becoming a journalist and angling to go backstage to interview Neil after a Crowded House concert and having Absolutely. Nothing. Intelligent. To. Say.
And now I’ll skip to last night …
A wonderful ex-colleague, Lucy, who knows my two obsessions are Neil Finn and Doctor Who, sent me a message telling me that a Foxtel Max Session was being filmed for Neil’s new album and did I want to go along?
YES. OH YES.
I took my sister, bless her. Husband wouldn’t come, he’s always had a set against Neil. I wonder if it’s the whole 33-year crush thing. But I swear, it’s not about the sex anymore, it’s about the music (ok, ok, if Neil begged I might reconsider).
The tears started when Neil sang Distant Sun from Seven Worlds Collide. Such a beautiful song.
They continued through to Message To My Girl.
I don’t know whether it’s the divine melodies or the gorgeous lyrics or time travelling to a younger, more carefree me (ah, the ’80s) … but I blubbed and blubbed and sang and sang and clapped and clapped.
My 45-year-old heart soared and filled with hope as I listened to that brilliant 55-year-old man sing so passionately about love as his wife of 21 years stood playing the bass guitar behind him.
Then I couldn’t cry any more because it just got too awesome. Eddie Vedder joined Neil onstage for a duet of Throw Your Arms Around Me.
(The video version above is with Mark Seymour … equally awe-making.)
And I was sitting just metres away.
Oh, it was heaven.
Then they sang History Never Repeats. And they enjoyed it so much they sang it again. They really did.
Eddie left the stage and even more magic happened: Neil sang Weather With You and the crowd lifted the roof singing along.
It was so, so good.
Thank you Neil. Thank you Foxtel. Thank you Lucy. That was special. Unforgettable. Bliss.
Neil has a new album coming out on February 7, it’s called Dizzy Heights. He played a few songs from it last night. It sounds fantastic. Order a copy by clicking here.
The Foxtel Max Session I watched is screening on Monday March 24 at 9pm on MAX – keep an eye out for me weeping like a fool in the audience.
What’s the first band you fell in love with as a teen?