The opening of the 2017 Adelaide Festival was celebrated in grand style on Sunday evening with a free performance on the Adelaide Riverbank by Neil Finn, one of the world’s finest singer-songwriters. Finn is the perfect fit for an event like this, mixing popular appeal with an artistry to match the material on offer throughout the Festival.

neil finn af3.jpgIn a surprise treat, Crowded House founding member, Nick Seymour joined on bass, looking delighted to be on the stage. The ensemble was nicely rounded out with Dan Kelly on guitar, Elroy Finn (son of Neil) on drums and the multi-talented Finn Scholes on keyboards and trumpet.

Neil was relaxed and generous in his performance, enjoying the freedom of choosing material from all phases of his diverse career, without being locked into a single guise. The setlist provded a delightful mix of rare gems (some that had not been dusted off for many years) and crowd-pleasing favourites from the Crowded House and Split Enz days.

neil finn af2.jpg‘Distant Sun’ was the highlight of the show, given an energetic performance that had the relaxed Sunday evening crowd on their feet. Earlier in the set, the rarely heard ‘English Trees’ was just exquisite.

In a cheeky move, Neil spontaneously turned the concert into a school sports day for a moment, challenging the children in the crowd to have running races up and down the access aisles. The kids obliged enthusiastically and it was great fun.

The Adelaide Riverbank was a superb location for the music, providing a warm evening with a fantastic vista.

The Adelaide Festival continues until Sunday 19 March.

By Matthew Trainor

Photos by Tessa Manning