Salient. Newspaper of the Victoria University Students' Association. Vol 42 No. 13. June 11 1979
Music — Split Enz concert
Split Enz concert
Last Sunday's concert by Split Enz in the Town Hall promised much, following their dazzling performance only two months ago, but unfortunately gave very little.
It had its moments, sure, but overall the concert suffered from a lack of vitality on the part of the Enz, excessive crowd-baiting and, worst of all, a television film crew complete with talking head Roger Gascoigne.'
For some reason a concert that is being filmed is much harder to get into than one where there is just the audience and the band. Always in the back of your mind is the idea that you are only a film extra and that the band are not playing for you at all, instead they are playing for the cameras.
The effect was the same at last year's so-called Byrds concert, a concert by three of that group's original members (Roger Mc-Guinn, Gene Clark and Chris Hillman) held in the State Opera House. At least at that, though, they were kind enough to put the mobile camera on stage behind the band.
Distracting as it was to see it, complete with two-man crew, going skating on its castors from one side of the stage to the other, it was nothing like having a camera down amongst the audience in front of the stage as they did at Split Enz.
Several rows of seats had been removed to make room for it, but before the Enz even came on stage after support band The Swingers had finished, this area was full of punters out to enjoy themselves, which after all is what they had paid their money to do.
Once the concert started, however, the camera crew's desire to get "all the good shots" meant that they kept pushing their way through the dancing masses. If it had not been for the youth fulness and peaceful nature of the people in that part of the audience there could have been trouble. If a film crew had tried the same thing at the last Lou Reed concert or at Graham Parker and the Rumour's Wellington concert I suspect they would have had a brawl on their hands.
Also, in order to aim filming, the stage and the stalls section of the hall were lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. Vocalist Tim Finn, who seemed pissed off about something (the cameras perhaps?) from the moment he walked on stage, demanded after the first few songs that the lights illuminating the audience be turned off. "The most important thing tonight is that we all have a good time," he told the audience.
But, for me anyway, that wasn't to be. The treble with Split Enz is that they seem to be worse each time I see them. Their best concert, in my opinion, was the first one I saw, the first concert they did after their 19 75 tour of Australia.
I thought they were brilliant. Mind you, they were still doing such classic songs as "Maybe", "Under the Wheel", "Spellbound" and of course, the one that never made it onto record, "Midnight Stampede".
Also Robert Gillies, in my opinion, not one of the world's bettor saxophonists, hadn't blessed them with his doubtful presence at that stage.
Their farewell concert before going to Britian was also good, but when they came back, minus half the original members, for the "Dizrhythmia" tour they were bloody awful.
I decided then not to bother seeing them again and it was only a last minute decision that saw me at their concert two months ago. Much to my delight the band totally vindicated themselves at that concert and once again earned the right to be hailed as the Best Band Ever To Come Out Of New Zealand. While most of the old songs were gone, although they did play "Time for a Change", the new ones were strong and more importantly the Enz put everything they had into them.
Why after that performance the one last Sunday was such a "going through the motions" display I do not know, but the prescence of the film crew certainly helped.. Like the people of New Guinea who believe that each time their photograph is taken they lose part of their soul, I think the television cameras stole the soul of last Sunday's Split Enz concert.