August 2007: The Brain Slaves, The Exiles, The New Freedom, The Valves, These Four Walls, Tiki Taane, Tim Finn

Colonial oppression, a walk around Auckland, DIY CGI, fireworks night, frustration, and a very physically expressive style.
Continue reading August 2007: The Brain Slaves, The Exiles, The New Freedom, The Valves, These Four Walls, Tiki Taane, Tim Finn

Tim Finn “Say It Is So”

2002-tim-finn-say-it-is-soThis is a Tim Finn video but the star ends up being Mareea Paterson, the bass player in his touring band, the Dirty Creatures. The video features around the band’s 2002 tour, and a performance of at the Civic Wintergarden (and the web tells me this gig took place on 19 October 2002). We see a lot of Tim and the band on stage, but there’s also lots of footage of them on the road, the glamorous life of loading up the station wagon with suitcases, before heading to the next airport.

Like a lot of recent Tim Finn videos, this focuses on Tim performing. It seems he’s most comfortable when he’s Tim Finn, the showman on a stage, rather than awkwardly trying to fit into a music video narrative. And like the last performance-based two videos (“I’ll Never Know” and “What You’ve Done”), this video is also shot in black and white. It’s a good style choice. It avoids the video falling into the “zany high jinks on the road” mould, and gives it a bit of style.

But yeah, the video totally hearts Mareea (who we’ll later come across in her solo project, Friends From Sweden). She’s easily the most exotic member of the Dirty Creatures, an otherwise unremarkable touring band of quality musos. So the video has latched onto this cool chick with cropped hair, tattoos and cigarettes.

She kinds of outshines him in the “on the road” segments, but when the band is on stage, there’s no risk of that. Tim is in his element, working the stage like the pro he is.

The video ends with a comedy postscript. Tim dances a merry jig on what looks like a solid stone ledge at the Wintergarden. But this is the Civic. It was built during the Depression. With the exception of modern strengthening, much of the solid-looking parts of the interior are just made of cheap plaster and cannot support the weight of a popstar. Tim’s foot goes through, damaging this Category I listed heritage building.

Best bit: the road sign pointing to Te Awamutu, just in case you’d forgotten.

Director: Andrew Morton

Next… the age of the winery tour continues.

Tim Finn “I’ll Never Know”

2002-tim-finn-ill-never-knowThis video has a great opening – a Sanyo radio plays the end of the Radio New Zealand long-range weather forecast for the districts, wrapping up with the Chatham Islands. We find Tim Finn alone in a dressing room, getting ready for a show. I’ve always thought that the RNZ long-range forecast is just as soothing as the BBC’s shipping forecast. Blur used to listen to the shipping forecast on tour, to remind them of England. Perhaps Tim Finn is doing the same for memories of Aotearoa.

He puts on his stage clothes, a neat suit, and sings the song as he tucks in and buttons up. We also get a look at the set list. It seems to be all Split Enz songs, and if this represents a real concert, it might have been something to do with one of Split Enz 30th anniversary shows in 2002.

The video sometimes focuses on the mundane details of the dressing room – the curves of the coat rack, a shirt button, the dust on the carpet, the painting on the wall. Tim nervous paces the room, as if he’s working himself up into the state required to be Tim Finn, pop legend.

Then the song fades down, Tim pours himself a glass of wine (which he doesn’t drink), casts an eye over the set list, and then there’s a knock at the door with “Two minutes, Tim!” Hey, Mr Stage Manager. Don’t you know that the concert’s already started in Tim’s dressing room?

Maybe that’s the problem. If he’s going to be singing Split Enz songs on stage, the dressing room might be the only outlet to perform his solo material. And once the Split Enz concert is over, maybe he will return for some alone time with the wine and the weather forecast.

Best bit: Tim’s stripy socks.

Director: Paul Casserly
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… punching above his weight.

Tim Finn “What You’ve Done”

2001-tim-finn-what-you-doneI’m thinking about Tim Finn’s earlier video for his song “Twinkle”. Tim seems uneasy in front of the camera, like he’s not used to the whole pop star/music video business – when clearly by that stage he was a pro.

But maybe it was just the setting. Maybe what Tim Finn needs to come alive in a music video is to just do what he’s been doing for decades – performing.

“What You’ve Done” puts Tim on stage. He’s wearing a nice suit, is surrounded by his band’s instruments, but there’s no sign of the band – or an audience for that matter. He’s alone, just a man and his mic.

Right from the first shot, Tim is full of energy. He bursts into the shadowy performance area and kicks up a storm (as well as the sawdust covering the stage). It’s a manic journey through the song, a bitter kiss-off to an ex (with lyrical gems such as “The pretty dress I bought you? I wear myself.”)

For a video that is essentially a man in a suit singing a song in a black room, Tim Finn makes it all work. His energy levels never relent, keeping the tension and mania flowing right until he storms off at the end. Tim Finn was almost 50 when this video was shot, shaming out the boring music videos of bands half his age. Nice one.

Best bit: during the line “I saw you with your boyfriend – he’s bigger than me”, Tim lifts up his mic stand to show the height.

Directors: Michael and Alex
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a good ol’ scream-along.

Tim Finn “Underwater Mountain”

1999-tim-finn-underwater-mountainSigns point to this video not actually having NZOA funding. It’s not on the definitive completed videos list and there are no NZOA logos in the video. But it was on the original funding list from December 1999 and I like it so here it is.

The video is directed by Matt Heath and Chris Stapp, just before their legendary TV2 series “Back of the Y Masterpiece Television”. Possibly inspired by the 1999 film “Office Space”, “Underwater Mountain” tells the tale of a disgruntled office worker. Tim Finn is absent, with the video being a mix of animation and a few subtle live-action elements.

We meet our hero staring at a frozen progress bar on his PC. Oh, nothing changes. Surrounded by stacks of paperwork, his one inspiration is the tropical island featured with May on is wall calendar. There’s a brilliant orange sunset and a lone palm atop his own personal Bali Hai.

He ends up freaking out in his cubical, hurling his troublesome PC about. This results in his boss being decapitated (yay!), the PC cord wrapping itself around his leg and dragging him out the window (boo!) and a sexy lady co-worker grabbing his hand to come along for the ride (yay!).

Down they go, falling into a sewer, then into a polluted waterway. There our hero discovers the skeletal remains of other disgruntled workers and their PCs. Inspired, he crawls back up to the surface where he discovers his Bali Hai – a giant pile of rusting, rotting trash. He climbs it and finds his lady friend at the top. They sit and watch the tropical-like polluted sunset. Aww.

“Carl Jung would tell you that this song is truer than most folks can recognize,” says YouTube commenter mahajohn. I would say the same about the video.

Best bit: the upside-down freefall kiss – so much better than Spider-Man.

Directors: Matt Heath, Chris Stapp

Next… juice box.

Tim Finn “Twinkle”

1999-tim-finn-twinkle“Twinkle” was the only single from Tim Finn’s fifth solo album, the self-released “Say It Is So”. It’s a very simple video and seems on par with other indie efforts from the era.

The video starts with a mysterious woman smoking a cigarette. This is a subtle change from smoking in music videos from the mid-’90s. In this video, it’s not the artist smoking, but rather a character. It’s used to convey unease, not coolness.

Tim plays a businessman. He comes home, flops his briefcase down on his bed, pours himself a scotch and sits in an easy chair. What happens next is very interesting. He’s sitting in his chair, looking at the camera, singing the song. And it looks like a webcam.

There’s the same blue screen light and unflattering angle. It actually looks like someone who’s settled down for a good, long Skype session with their sweetie in another town. But back in 1999, webcam technology wasn’t that advanced. The best you could manage on dial-up was ever-changing black and white stills.

So, ok, Tim isn’t Skyping or vlogging. He’s just sitting in his chair getting sloshed. He briefly gets up to make a phonecall and paces about for a bit, but the video is largely him just sitting.

But suddenly drama! Cigarette girl gets all “Hunger Games” on Tim. She pulls back a crossbow and shoots him in the back, through the chair. I’m not sure how this works out as she appears to have been shooting from outside and yet the arrow comes from inside the apartment. I don’t even think Katniss can shoot that well.

Director: Marc Swadel

Next… behind the bamboo curtain.

Missing videos from 1994

There’s a Rockquest winner, some more bogan rock, a bit of hip hop, and some reggae.
Continue reading Missing videos from 1994