Monday was the final show of Liam Finn’s Murmuration residency at The Rock Shop. It definitely felt like he had made The Rock Shop his home, full of friends, inside jokes, and freedom to jam and riff and try out some new music. Liam was immediately affable, addressing the packed room as if we were all just hanging out in his practice space, but really gave the people a rock show.
For the most part, his songs are actually pretty straightforward and simple. Sure, they also contain some great lyrical lines, but what makes them special - aside from the fact that music is basically in his DNA - is his performance of them. If it wasn’t for the way he jumps from guitar to drums back to guitar to climbing on amps to joking with the audience like we’re all old friends…well, it just wouldn’t be a Liam Finn show. This means that you could probably see him every time he played (and there were people who did attend every Monday performance of his residency), and you would get a completely different show. It’s like he tailors each show to the vibe of the crowd, the feedback he gets, and whatever’s on his mind at the time. And man, can he wail on a drum kit.
What was also cool about this show was how it steadily increased in intensity and excitement, but there was plenty of interaction the whole way through. At first it was just Liam, looping his own guitar riffs and then jumping on drums. He asked us to yell out whatever we felt like yelling after he played a drum fill, and then played that whole sample backwards so we could hear what we sounded like, backwards. He asked for suggestions on cool guitar riffs to cover, the result of which is below – guest MC included.
Liam played some cover songs, including “Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks, and gradually brought up other players to assist on drums, bass, and backup vocals. By the end of the first set, he had managed to mix in a good amount of his own material, with plenty of improvisational jams and covers. In a way, the jams were even better than his more rehearsed originals. Compared to a spastic drum fill with a grungy looped guitar riff, songs like “Cold Feet” just didn’t feel as fun. Songs like “Second Chance,” however, felt like an anthem, because everyone knew the words and were happy to sing along, becoming part of the jam session. This all escalated until the 15 minute break, when Liam Finn wiped his brow and gathered his full band for a grand finale set. They played a new song they had just written the day before, featuring female vocals and the entire band playing their hardest. The floor turned into a basement mosh pit, Liam crowdsurfed, and everyone was lightening.