It’s New Year’s Eve and that means that many will be lamenting the year that was, wallowing in regrets, grieving for those gone, and riding the shame of poor decisions. And yeah, I’d have to agree that some pretty warped things happened this year, but guys, it wasn’t all bad! If I had a bucket list, seeing Crowded House would be on it somewhere and 2016 made it happen.
On 24 November 1996, I was a grade 6 student at a small primary school in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. That Sunday night, after dinner, I enjoyed one of the most memorable musical moments of my childhood. That night one of Australia’s most beloved bands took to the stage at the foreshore of the iconic Sydney Opera House and performed an epic concert for its fans. Crowded House were holding their Farewell To The World concert eleven years after their formation. The concert, as we all know was televised, and its momentous, seeping, surging energy found its way into a suburban living room, into my suburban living room.
I watched that concert in my home with my mother, father and older brother. It was a family affair. I remember having a deep and unexplained understanding that what I was watching held particular significance, that it was important, it mattered. The following day was a school day and my classmates and I would talk about that concert, how we stayed up to watch it. I remember Don’t Dream It’s Over gave me goosebumps.
Fastforward twenty years and Crowded House, although a slightly different incarnation following the tragic death of the larger than life characteur that was Paul Hester, were back at the Sydney Opera House for four very special Encore performances of their Farewell To The World concert. The concerts all sold out in minutes. We were very lucky to secure tickets. You can imagine how excited I was to be there to welcome Neil Finn, Nick Seymour and Mark Hart back to the stage and witness the musicianship of Matt Sherrod.
Surrounded by an itching anticipation I stood with thousands of people just like me, people older than me, people younger than me. An older man to my right fllinched after one of my piercingly loud “woohoo’s” and covered his ears. We got off to a rocky start he and I, but I got him to come around. Every person there that night became a friend. I sang along to every word and I smiled at strangers. After 22 songs, Tim Finn rightly making an appearance, the biting banter, fireworks from the Harbour bridge, silly jokes, bad dancing, loud cheers, and emotional sing alongs, the night was sadly, finally over.
We couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to our new found friend. He proudly told us that he was there 20 years ago when the band first farewelled Sydney and the world. This time around he brought his son along. “This music is timeless” he told me with a huge grin. And really, nothing more needs to be said. The music is timeless.