By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Crowded House was forced to postpone its last North American tour — including a date at the Mesa Arts Center — due to the drummer’s back injury.
Vocalist/guitarist Neil Finn says he’s looking forward to making good on the jaunt.
“We’re in rehearsal at the moment,” he says in late April. “I just got here from New Zealand. The band has gathered from different parts of the world. It’s a joyous occasion when we get together.”
The Australian band — which includes Neil; his sons, guitarist/singer Liam Finn and drummer Elroy Finn; original bassist Nick Seymour and producer/keyboardist Mitchell Froom — is touring in support of its seventh studio album, 2021’s “Dreamers are Waiting.”
“It was a project of the pandemic, really,” Neil says. “We were lucky enough to start the project off in real studios in Los Angeles for two to three weeks. All the rhythm tracks were done. We had to cancel our last week because the studio closed.
“We continued on a lot of Zooming. Some of us ended up playing together. I was lucky enough to be in a bubble with our sons. We had to exchange files with each other. We were making music any way we could.”
Crowded House performed livestream concerts during the shutdown and concentrated, individually, on the record. The musicians worked on their own, allowing them to discover and explore new sounds.
“Part of that is a restlessness to not repeat the formulas,” he says about Crowded House’s history of timeless music.
“Part of it is accidental. There’s really no manual for music. There’s always this mystery and element of chance. Endurance is the thing that gets them over the line.”
Originally active from 1985 to 1996, Crowded House found success in the United States with its self-titled debut, which spawned the hits “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong.” Subsequent tracks included “Fall at Your Feet,” “Weather with You,” “Chocolate Cake” and “Not the Girl You Think You Are.”
Crowded House disbanded in 1996 and reunited in 2020 with the current lineup. The act is one of the fortunate few who could perform during the pandemic, as New Zealand isolated on a national scale.
“We were able to play a tour in New Zealand when the whole world was locked down,” he says. “New Zealand was eluding the virus with the airport lockdown. We were more isolated. We did a two-week tour of New Zealand. We were very privileged. It’s been tricky to navigate.”
Between pandemic-dictated postponements and Elroy’s back surgery, touring has been tough to navigate. Now the band is in the best shape it’s ever been, Neil explains, in terms of the sound.
“We have Mitchell Froom, our original producer, on keyboardist,” he says. “Things like ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ never sounded better because he’s the guy who played it. We asked him to join the band back in the day. He finally saw the light and now he’s in the band.
“Liam and Elroy are two of my favorite musicians. My old cohort, the original bassist, who’s traveling well, he’s in the band. We’ll be playing most of the songs that people are most familiar with and fond of, but we are able to play our album that we were never able to play (due to the pandemic).”
The Mesa Arts Center show is a rarity on Crowded House’s tour itinerary. However, Neil has performed with Fleetwood Mac in the Valley.
“Crowded House hasn’t played in Arizona in quite a while,” Neil says. “We’ve had some great shows, but with scheduling the way it is, we haven’t ended up playing in Arizona at all. We’ve only toured once every five years, so it’s been 10 to 15 years since we played in Arizona. There’s always a great audience.”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10
WHERE: Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater, 1 E. Main Street, Mesa
COST: Tickets start at $50