Tim Finn White Cloud

By Tim Finn and Ken Duncum with film by Sue Healey

Performed by Tim Finn


Tim Finn, iconic New Zealand singer-songwriter, member of Crowded House and founding member of Split Enz, performs White Cloud, a musing meditative performance about family, identity and home. A richly textured blend of beautifully melodic music and poetically evocative prose, this inventive reflection on the lives of his own and his co-writer's Anglo-Saxon families growing up in NZ, loosening ties to the UK and encountering Maori culture, is a delight. Through songs and stories, Tim introduces us to family members and ancestors whose voices echo through journals, letters and memoirs - matched by dreamlike imagery drawn from 8mm home movies shot largely by Tim’s dad, Richard Finn. An inspired collaboration between Tim Finn, leading New Zealand playwright/screenwriter Ken Duncum and video artist Sue Healey, White Cloud has wowed audiences and critics in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the UK.

"Salvage something that we need to remember

From the wreck of History

Family Images of fading splendour

Where they lead I'm following..."

Photograph by Richard Finn


Reviewed by Grant Hindin Miller, 5 Sep 2015


‘White Cloud, Dark Shadows, Green Hills'

New Zealanders are a people “who are defined by what they're not” (White Cloud). One of the things we don't do is draw attention to ourselves. Tim Finn's stroll onto stage in the TVNZ Festival Club without sound, lighting, musical, or dramatic cue, exemplifies this sentiment. In a no-nonsense sort of Pākehā way he picks up his guitar, places the strap over his head, and gets underway.

I have often admired Tim Finn's song writing talent and this is the first time I've seen him perform live. I'm impressed. The revelation for me is his sensitivity and skill on the piano. Comfortable and confident, you have the sense that here is a man at the top of his game.

White Cloud is a musical memoir, a triptych of music, poetry and visual imagery. A collaboration between playwright Ken Duncum, filmmaker Sue Healy and singer-songwriter Tim Finn, its recurring motif is ‘white cloud, dark shadows, green hills': a haiku-like summation of the New Zealand Pākehā experience. The weight falls perhaps on ‘dark shadows' (especially in songs like ‘It's not always safe').

Through snapshots and home movies the songs sometimes act as a response to the visuals and at other times the visuals support the songs. Tim Finn's sterling musicality holds it all together. I'm reminded, favourably, of ‘The Boy with a Note', the life and times of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, told in narrative and song by English singer-songwriter Ralph McTell. The advantage McTell had is that he was dealing with one character, moreover an icon of whom we already had some awareness. White Cloud has multiple protagonists: the members of two extended families, Pākehā identity itself and what it means to be a New Zealander.

It's a challenge to hold all that together. Whilst the delivery of the poetry and songs is always assured, the feeling is of sometimes being at arm's length from the material. We long for a main character. Where the show soars is when the focus is individualised; for example in ‘I had a Flying Dream', the song about Tim's mother, Maisie.

White Cloud is a complex and courageous exploration of family and identity. Whilst it is essentially the whakapapa of two NZ Pākehā males, it is also a fascinating expression of layered artistry, ‘full of voices' that speak to and for New Zealanders.

Tim Finn is excellent on stage, varying aural dynamics by his gifted and selective use of guitar, electric ukulele, piano, and wooden flute. His voice is great. The Christchurch audience loves him and responds with a standing ovation.


Source: https://www.theatreview.org.nz/reviews/review.php?id=8438


Extraordinary experiences in Galway

Neil Cooper / Tuesday 28 July 2015

Split Enz singer Tim Finn performing two nights in St Nicholas' Church.

Encoring with Crowed House' "Weather With You" and Split Enz's "Six Months in a Leaky Boat", which he performed on the second night, were the nearest Finn came to greatest hits during White Cloud, an intimate and deeply personal mix of song, spoken-word and home movie footage that explored Finn's roots in New Zealand. White Cloud was a moving piece of multi-media storytelling

Source: http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/13502559.Extraordinary_experiences_in_Galway/

Reviewed by Bryget Chrisfield 13/01/17

After settling into our seats, we notice the set — an Egyptian rug, tall white floor lamp, piano and other instrument stations. It resembles the room of a music teacher who typically conducts lessons from home. Tim Finn and Brett Adams take the stage, Finn giving us a brief explanation about how White Cloud materialised. After many back-and-forth emails with playwright Ken Duncum, the pair became increasingly drawn to their subject matter, which explores growing up in New Zealand. Finn teaches us the Maori word for non-Maori New Zealanders who are of European descent: pakeha. The etymology of the word pakeha is used as a springboard to transport us to The Land Of The Long White Cloud via memoirs and stories discovered by Duncum, interwoven within tales from Finn's own ancestry.

Video artist Sue Healey expertly splices together visuals utilising super 8 home movies from the Finn and Healey family archives. Finn's father, Richard Finn (who we're told is aged "94 and three-quarters") shot a lot of this footage, which plays out at the rear of the stage space on the type of pull-down projection screen that's often found in classrooms.

White Cloud's loose-form structure works well, with poems/memoir readings slotted between songs, with Finn also spontaneously addressing his audience on occasion. He pauses to acknowledge the action on the back screen, pointing out a wee Neil Finn playing baby Jesus in a front-yard family nativity play. And, boy, do those Kiwi kids know how to hula hoop! We learn early on that Tim Finn's an impressive whistler and he sure loves pushing that falsetto to unscalable heights. He apologises that tonight's show isn't "slick" since the pair haven't performed it for a while, before an audience member yells out reassurance: "It's great!"

There's a moving tribute to Finn's mother Maisie, who is no longer with us. We hear a recording of her recounting personal anecdotes, broken up by Finn singing alternate lines and keeping her memory alive through song. At the conclusion of this performance Finn beats his heart with closed fist a couple of times before bowing and leaving the stage.

A man behind us, who absentmindedly jangled his keys throughout this evening's entire performance (despite our over-the-shoulder glares), deems White Cloud "self-indulgent", but we totally disagree. This piece is charming, insightful and makes us want to delve further into the history of New Zealand. We feel as if we've been granted permission to leaf through the Finn family photo albums, which come to life and whisper secrets very much like the moving newspaper and photo books in Harry Potter films.



Source: http://themusic.com.au/arts/reviews/2017/01/16/white-cloud-fairfax-studio-bryget-chrisfield/



Previous performances include

Arts Centre Melbourne

Galway Arts festival

The Stables Milton Keynes

Sydney Writers Festival

Auckland Cabaret Festival

Christchurch Arts Festival