Neil Finn & Friends – 7 Worlds Collide/ 7 Years Apart (Madman)

This two-disc DVD release combines the previously-issued 7 Worlds Collide DVD along with the newly-produced The Sun Came Out: 7 Worlds Collide Again.  The first 7 Worlds Collide disc features concert performances of Neil Finn and his guests (Johnny Marr, Eddie Vedder, members of Radiohead) at Auckland’s St. James Theatre in April of 2001. The second is a documentary of the making of The Sun Came Out; the album recorded in December of 2008 by Finn and some of the same friends, along with a few new ones…most notably members of Wilco and K.T. Tunstall.

First I popped in the 2001 show just to re-familiarize myself with the material. I attended one of the shows back then, and it was an interesting night. The idea of mixing artists like Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway, The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder with Neil (and Tim) Finn was intriguing. For the most part, it worked. The best moments come during Neil’s Crowded House tunes (Private Universe/She Will Have Her Way) and Eddie Vedder and Tim Finn’s frenzied performance of Split Enz’s I See Red.

Have seen the live shows that took place after the December 2008 session, I was hoping that the new disc would also be a full concert programme. Instead it is a fly-on-the-wall style documentary showing how the resulting double album, The Sun Came Out, was written and recorded. While it’s nice to see the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Johnny Marr and Neil Finn working away in the studio together, watching musicians wearing headphones working out their parts gets a bit boring after a while.

Director Simon Mark-Brown does his best to inject as much humour and backstory into the film as he can. The footage of the musicians frolicking on the beach at Piha is nice, but I would have rather seen more of them on stage. The songs written for the project were surprisingly strong and the shows at Auckland’s Powerstation were wonderful. Maybe there’s another DVD waiting in the wings.

Marty Duda