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Neil Finn, gig review: 'He never really takes off

St James’s Church, London

“You can turn to page 54 and psalm 57,” the 55-year-old quips before his “whimsical” new track, “Recluse”, on which he maintains “It's people you lose when you become a recluse”. It's sort of part of the recluse deal, really.

“This is an extremely special occasion,” the Crowded House frontman informs us and the singer keeps on insisting there's no better place to be than in this church tonight. It's disputable. The first half of the set is devoted to his introspective new solo album, Dizzy Heights, on which he's assisted by a nine-piece ensemble. Finn's high falsetto (not dissimilar to Jimmy Nail's) delivery is overwrought but the lyrics, in the main, are rather banal and the tempo plodding, particular on “Impressions”.

The looser (“I don't know what I'm playing from here on in”) second half is an improvement with Finn demonstrating his nimble lyricism and knack for a melody (when he's at his best his recalls Glenn Tilbrook and Squeeze) on Crowded House gems “Into Temptation” and the evocative “Distant Sun”.

His adoring crowd, who yelp out requests and in one case belt out the first few notes of “Blue Hotel”, seem satisfied. But as splendid a musician as the New Zealander is, this experience never really takes off.