Finn strips back for a cause

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'Just a guy': Neil Finn PICTURE: JOSHUA MORRIS

An African charity is pulling Neil Finn to Queenstown, away from his work on two new albums.

The 58-year-old plays Gibbston Valley Winery tonight for So They Can, which helps poverty-stricken children and communities in Kenya and Tanzania.

The legendary artist praises the work of large charity groups but So They Can, a smaller-scaled project, really strikes a chord with him.

The charity night will see Finn stripped back to a one-man-band.

“It’s a format I really enjoy,” he tells Mountain Scene.

“I don’t do it that often so it’s kinda special.”

Although the charity hasn’t directly inspired any songs he hopes they all contain ideas that are empathetic.

In the past, music he has written has evolved into tunes for charities.

“That’s the wonderful thing about songs, they have a mysterious life.”

From his native Auckland, where he’s up to his ears in new material, Finn explains himself modestly: “I’m kinda just a guy who’s mad about making music.”

But he’s not just a guy – Finn is Kiwi music royalty.

He co-fronted Split Enz with brother Tim and later founded hugely successful band, Crowded House, which reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States with Don’t Dream It’s Over in 1987.

Crowded House reunites this month over the ditch to play two concerts and, on the same week, be inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame.

Finn’s most recent solo album, Dizzy Heights, came out in 2014 with a uniqueness to it.
Both his sons and his wife were part of his backing band.

The Gibbston gig will be his second time playing in Queenstown – the last time being with Crowded House.

He reckons the resort has always got a good vibe about it.

“It’s an extraordinary place to visit and as you get off the plane you realise you’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

The charity event is for those who can afford to splash a bit of cash – tickets are $245 a pop.

Finn will be performing all of his back catalogue to his latest musical offerings.

Despite being there to perform, he won’t let the opportunity to taste a wee drop of Central Otago pinot go to waste.

“There’s some great wine to be had down there, and hopefully a fairly moderate amount to ensure a good performance, but I’ll certainly be enjoying a red, or two.”

As for the music guru ever slowing down: “I love it and I’ll continue to keep doing it for as long as I can.”

He’s hoping to have his next two albums released in the first part of next year.

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz

Neil Finn plays Gibbston Valley Winery tonight, 7pm. Tickets $245 per person, or $2450 for a table of 10, available online at Eventbrite. They include pre-dinner drinks, dinner, Gibbston Valley wine and a chance to win a diamond. So They Can boss Cassandra Treadwell will share stories of the charity’s achievements