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Tim Finn, Amy Rude

Club Congress, Sunday, Sept. 7

I've come to realize that there's something about our funky little spot in the desert that brings out the best stories in traveling musicians, especially U.K. artists in their golden years--it's the closest thing I'll get to hearing a legend like Ray Davies spin a yarn in a pub.

So when someone like Tim Finn--a former member of Split Enz and Crowded House--comes to town as he did last Sunday, I don't pass up the opportunity to get my ears bent.

Local singer-songwriter Amy Rude was a late addition to the Finn bill, treating an unsuspecting audience to her ramshackle, fractured gothic Americana. During a brief feedback problem, Rude tried to lighten the mood with the timely quip, "Please don't be diverted by the ground noise and the static," though GOP convention chants of "USA!" were not delivered.

New Zealand-born Tim Finn is ostensibly still promoting his 2006 solo album Imaginary Kingdom, aided by a keyboardist and guitarist to reproduce the lush sounds off the disc. Between his witty anecdotes, Finn sprinkled his set with cuts off Kingdom, including "Midnight Coma" and the single "Couldn't Be Done," as well as older solo efforts such as "Persuasion" off Before and After. Finn even played a rare tune from ALT, a one-off trio he formed in the mid-1990s with Hothouse Flowers singer Liam Ó Maonlaí.

But Finn knows the masses came to hear the hits, so he knocked out the Split Enz smash "I Got You" early on. Finn later conceded his brother Neil, in fact, sang lead vocals on the song, but that they'd always felt the two men were one horse, Tim being the back half and Neil the front. ("Rather be ass and balls than brains and mouth," he reasoned.) Finn also played rousing versions of "Six Months in a Leaky Boat," an Enz single he did in fact sing on, and "So Long for Now," normally a finale but tonight played midset.

Most well-received were the songs from Crowded House's Woodface, the lone CH album on which Tim Finn performed. Finn cut into "Chocolate Cake," and before the night was out, dedicated "Weather With You" to Congress' Dan Hernandez for a job well-done.

I'll bet Dan's got some story about that one ...

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