Crowded House

Farewell to the World

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Crowded House called it a day on November 24, 1996, with a farewell concert at the Sydney Opera House attended by well over 100,000 people, making it one of the largest concerts in Australian history. The double-disc set Farewell to the World was released a decade later to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the event, and while the performance lacks the loose energy and off-the-cuff banter that made Crowded House's concerts memorable, it has aged well, and not just because Neil Finn's songs sound every bit as fresh and sharp as they did upon their initial release. That much can be discerned from a listen to any of the group's albums, or their excellent hits compilation, Recurring Dream, but what Farewell to the World reveals is what a tight, professional live band Crowded House could be if the occasion called for it -- and certainly, this farewell show was an occasion that called for it. This was a large-scale, historic performance, and it sounds like it: the band plays all the hits and standards, with none of the left-field detours that could characterize their live shows (and are well documented on the many fan club-only live releases over the years), and they play with focused precision that may not be as exciting as some of their other live shows, but it certainly is easy to enjoy, whether it was in person at the Sydney Opera House in 1996 or hearing it on record years later. This may not be a major release, but for fans it is a welcome one: a souvenir of a fine farewell show, and a nice reminder of the strengths of Crowded House as a live band.

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