ENZO: The Songs Of Split Enz – Eddie Rayner & Friends The Civic May 18, 2018

Eddie Rayner revisited ENZO from 21 years ago and it sounded just as good if not better than the original outing, which is no mean feat.

The Civic is a great place to hear and see a concert and, as the punters nestled into the comfy chairs, the stage started filling up with a brass section on one side and strings on the other. Then Eddie and the team took centre stage and were met with a healthy roar from the crowd.

The opening track was Albert of India off the album Corroboree. From the first note you knew this was going to be a special night.  The music flowed over the audience and the sound was just amazing.

Then it was the turn of the guest vocalists to strut their stuff and strut they did.  Rikki Morris kicked off with Voices off Spellbound and he owned it.   Phil Madsen followed closely behind with one of my all time favourite tracks Poor Boy off True Colours. Phil’s voice and range was excellent and, dare I say it, sounded better at times than the original artist.

It’s here the arrangements by Eddie are worth calling out and can’t be underestimated. Keeping the aspects of a great song but then being able to lift sections that were perhaps overshadowed in the past and spotlighted is a true gift.

Eddie’s piano playing was also a highlight.  Clearly the re-imagining of the tracks had a strong keyboard influence and he was able to make that shine through the whole concert, as did the strings and brass section. While it wasn’t quite an orchestra they sounded like they were and hats off to them as there was little downtime during the whole show.

The pick and mix of the guest vocalists was very cool as well. Rima Te Wiata not only sounded great but she was able to unleash just a little of her acting skills as well and none better to showcase this was her rendition of Dirty Creatures off Time and Tide. She made the track deliciously creepy and atmospheric, which ensured the song was another great standout of the night.

The hits kept coming during the show and included One Step Ahead, I See Red, Give It A Whirl and Straight Old Line, which was a bombastic reprise sung by Rima, who turned it into a soul classic.

Guests from days gone past joined the stage after a short interval with the forever effervescent Mike Chunn playing bass and bringing a smile to the crowd. Old stories were shared and then the night hit a new level with the closing tracks being shot out a like machine gun, reminding us why Split Enz are still as relevant today as they were when these songs first came out all those years ago.

By this stage, as the simple guitar rifts of I Got You came off Brett Adams’ (Mockers and The Bads fame) guitar, the seated audience couldn’t take it any more and leapt up, singing the chorus and lifting the Civic’s roof ever so slightly in the process.  The band then left and of course came back and finished off what was an incredible evening with History Never Repeats and Six Months In A Leaky Boat.

The bows of the artists and smiles said it all.  I looked around the packed theatre and there were smiles everywhere as well, acknowledging being part of something quite special and it was.

Good on ya Eddie for bringing this back and reminding us of stories past told, which will forever be woven into our Kiwiana music cloak of nostalgia. Let’s hope it won’t be another 21 years before the cloak gets dusted off and worn again. That to me would be quite unforgivable.

David Boyle

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk: