Neil Finn at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis stadium. Pawan Singh / The National
Neil Finn at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis stadium. Pawan Singh / The National

Neil Finn thrills the UAE

If musical popularity was measured by quality, then Neil Finn would be right up there with McCartney and Lennon.

While the Kiwi tunesmith may not be the stadium act his pedigree deserves, he remains a gold standard when it comes to the art of ­songwriting.

The medium-sized crowd at the Dubai Tennis Stadium was treated to nearly 20 songs encompassing Finn’s time leading the perky New Wave outfit Split Enz, the elegant pop-rockers Crowded House, The Finn Brothers (with his brother, Tim Finn) and his own solo career.

Despite the various genres traversed, they were all wrapped in Finn’s twin gifts for melody and poignant lyricism.

Backed by a five-piece band (including his wife Sharon Finn on bass) Finn kicked it off with Split Enz's strident History Never Repeats.

It was followed up by the first mass singalong of the evening with Crowded House's Weather With You.

With the crowd firmly on his side, Finn introduced the first of three cuts from his latest release Dizzy Heights.

Flying in the Face of Love was perhaps the most peppy of the bunch, with a pulsating funk bassline.

The second number, Pony Ride, placed in the middle of the set, was a driving rocker as Finn did the neat trick of juxtaposing his smooth crooning vocals over some aggressive riffs.

The third Dizzy Heights' track, the airy Better Than TV, possessed a bit of swagger with Finn's rich voice sailing over evocative piano and guitar swirls.

These newer excursions were amply cushioned by many Finn favourites such as the exquisite She Will Have Her Way, the nostalgic Distant Sun and the throwaway fun of Locked Out.

In good spirits throughout, Finn kept up a warm banter with the crowd and generously extended those golden choruses to allow the crowd an extra singalong.

It was a joyous evening of music by a pro at the top of his game.

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5