At 2 pm on Monday last week I got a text from our son Joshua.  “hey mum …. here’s a weird request.  Would you like to write a review of the crowded house concert from last night? Max 750 words to accompany my photos on moshcam … just talking about the experience of watching it at home.  The article will be angled something like ‘I went to the crowded house gig to take photos and my mum reviewed it from home”.  What do ya think?

I thought about it.  For thirty seconds.  And responded “I’m in.”

Josh:  woohoo!

Me:   When do you need it?

Josh: did you want me to send you the setlist?

Me:  Yes

Josh:  would it be possible before 5 …? If not tomorrow …

Me: Ah you ran out of time!!

Josh:  just sent you the setlist on FB.  No, our reviewer didn’t get there, so now we have no words for the gallery ….

Me: It’s my privilege.  I’ll do my best.

Josh:  thank you!!! Xxx  just no bragging about me taking photos …. the review should be your experience of the show.

Josh:  please.

Me:  OK.


I was absolutely thrilled my son had asked me to do this, delighted that he acknowledged me in this way, believing I could give him something worthy of his brilliant photographs.  So I put aside my plans for the afternoon (wrapping fifty plus Christmas presents), Gerald replayed the concert for me on my I-Pad.  And would you know it, Telstra crashed, and I could not use my computer.  I had to use Gerald’s, this may sound a minor irritant, but his computer is very different to mine, and I found it a big challenge to get used to using it.  But I had promised our son, and so there was only one thing to do.  Write.


At 5 pm I wasn’t finished and I had 1800 words.  I texted Josh:

Me:  I’m taking Cino for a walk and will finish it when I get home and send it.  OK?

Josh:  perfect!  Thanks mum!

Me:  I hope it’s OK.  I don’t know who I am talking to. But you can edit it or trash it.

Walking Cino, I had a few doubts.  What if it is trash?  Then what will they put on the gallery?  I didn’t want to let him down, this was such an honouring request.  And how would Josh feel telling me that it wasn’t any good?  How would I be knowing it wasn’t any good?  I know nothing about music, other than what I like and what I don’t.

I went back home and with a large gin and tonic, edited the article down to 750 words, and at 7.30 pm I sent him this text:

Me:  Dad sending now on his computer – mine is down and it’s been a headache working on Dad’s – let me know if it’s any good, it’s OK not to use it.

Josh:  thank you mum!! I’ll check it out asap.

I felt anxious.  Five minutes later, he rang.  “Mum!  It’s brilliant!”  Really??  “Yes!  It’s perfect!  Thank you so much!  The guys will check it out and it will be posted tomorrow.  I’ll send you the link.” 

I put the phone down and felt euphoric.  My son, who hasn’t asked me to participate in anything with him for a long time had asked me to do something, I had accepted, and he loved it.  I felt a closeness and a connection I hadn’t felt for a long time.  I remembered as a little boy of three or four years old in Melbourne, he would draw pictures, pictures which resembled an unspooled reel of film, with little sprocket holes on either side of the drawings.  Already a photographer.  Inside each frame would be a drawing, I still have a couple in a box somewhere.   And then in his excited little boy voice he would tell me what they meant, with the plea “Mum, write it down!  Write the words!  Write down the story!” 

I did that for my son on Monday, and I was proud.  I am proud, of him – and of me.

Two days later, it was posted, and Josh sent me a text “I just shared your amazing review on FB.”  I asked "Do you think it is amazing?  Truly?"  He responded "I do!  It's really great - lots of positive feedback on it x"  I opened FB immediately.  He wrote “My mum wrote a wicked review of the Crowded House gig at the Opera House without ever leaving the River House.  Thanks mum!! Xx (and thanks Geneva for the idea!”)

And the headline read:


Thanks for the opportunity my talented son.  I love you.

 Here is what I wrote:




The night is warm and so is the welcome, the setting is sublime.  This four night residency is the first time Crowded House have played in Sydney since 1996, the crowd is huge;  over 5000 on the steps and 643,000 tuning in from home.

My husband and I have very good seats, and clutching our glass of wine anticipate a great performance at our iconic Sydney Opera House.  We are sitting in our lounge room on the river in Shoalhaven Heads watching TV but it doesn’t diminish our excitement at all. 

The crowd there are excited too, and look young - possibly because we are so old - but it strikes me as wonderful that these not so young, but ever youthful men have an appeal to people of all ages.

The show opens with chanting, robed figures wreathed in smoke;  the first song is an energetic ‘Mean to Me’, a promise of what is to come, and people are pumping their fists and responding on cue.  These guys are singing better than ever!

Neil acknowledges we are in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and tells us he is grateful and feeling blessed to be with his friends Mark, Nick, Matt and Elroy and adds - "And all of you!"  The crowd is happy to be here, and cheers loudly.  Something wonderful is happening here.  This is not a 'performance’, it feels intimate, like jamming with some of your best larrikin mates.  He acknowledges his band and the crew.  They have an innate understanding of each other; this kind of genius can happen when you spend decades together, and we are lucky to be here.

We are treated to a stirring delivery of ‘Fall at your Feet’ – the drummer picks up its heartbeat, and gives me goose bumps.  The five thousand strong choir sing enthusiastically, they know every word.  The Harbour is overcast but the stage is a chakra of colour, lights smash and flicker with such clarity, we can see their eyeballs.  Rainbows punctuate the sharp suited men on stage, at once a giant golden disc, then fire balls and strobes.

Neil asks "Who hasn't been in a hotel and been kept awake by a couple next door shagging like crazy in the next room?"  We laugh and get ‘Whispers and Moans’;   the guitars scream through impossible riffs. 

There is a mighty talented crew at work creating this masterpiece.  An invisible support structure to give us a show which is extraordinary – a defining moment, a show we will recall in twenty years time and ask “Were you there?”

‘Sister Madly’ has people jumping, a sea of hands reaching skywards, energy rocketing.  Neil leans over and plays Nick's guitar, whilst the crowd finishes off every sentence.  The drummer plays an extended finale with Nick’s encouragement, these guys are having a ball.

Nick welcomes his big brother Tim to the stage;  he looks like be never left, he belongs there, the crowd are thrilled and go wild when they launch into ‘It’s Only Natural’.  This is a massive sing-a-long and a feel good moment!  They sing ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ and a personal highlight ‘Chocolate Cake’.  The crowd LOVE it!

The keyboard player Mark Hart is outstanding. The Finns’ Grandma, Nora, is no doubt proud of her grandsons, but would be proud of Mark too.  Apparently, she rolled the family car with all four of her grandchildren in it, and in a fit of guilt and an act of appeasement, bought the family a piano, which is how the brothers learned to play.  I love that.


Mark surrenders the keyboard to Neil and plays like a mad genius, even hitting the keyboard with his foot, repeating phrases which make the crowd go off and scream back "PIECE OF CHOCOLATE CAKE!"

Then, "Don't Dream it's Over" and nostalgia moves us;  we are in a reverie of memory. 

The sound increases from a whisper to a command, "HEY NOW, HEY NOW", Neil holds that final note forever, and the music slowly dies.   Another standing ovation and the guys look humbled and pleased.

The last song is Distant Sun, and the stage darkens, the show is over but the crowd is insatiable for more, demanding their return.

We are rewarded with "Weather With You", we know the end is near.  Neill promises we will meet again, and the old softie Nick, says “I love you.” The final song is “Better be Home Soon".  Our voicesbuild to a tumultuous crescendo, and Nick leads us and holds the note on "hoooooooooooome" till even us couch potatoes are out of breath and feeling very satisfied.  These guys know their audience.

A spectacular fire work display explodes above us and the Opera House.  We waited two decades, so the show was always going to be great.  But this was brilliant, you guys, bloody brilliant. 





28th November 2016



Sandra Groom2 Comments