Image: Paul Kelly and band live at Memo Music hall, supplied by Ryan Warren.
When I heard we, Triple M, were giving away tickets to a “secret” Paul Kelly show through the Triple M Club, I was prepared to quit my job and ring up to take my chances for winning a ticket.
My first introduction to PK was listening to Darling It Hurts as a ten year old, thrilled by the images of seedy city life that it evoked, not fully appreciating the line “Darling it hurts to see you down Darlinghurst tonight” until much later knowing really only the St Kilda equivalent’s reputation and getting the gist, but the sound was also terrifically exciting to me.
I loved when it came on the radio, later getting it on cassette.
So when I heard the first single – Firewood and Candles – from Paul’s new album Life Is Fine – it sort of took me back there hearing that 2 minutes and 56 seconds of instant joy lift out of the speakers.
I simply could not wait to see it live.
Learn more about Life Is Fine here:
I was privileged to be one of 400 at Memo Music Hall (a gorgeous venue at the base of the historic St Kilda Army and Navy club on Acland Street that regularly puts on mighty fine shows) and having a drink and a chat before the performance with some friends we were wondering what we were in for, would it just be the new album, would it just be Paul – all I’d heard was that it was a live rehearsal prior to playing Splendour in the Grass – we agreed even if he sang the drinks menu we’d be happy.
Excited to see a full band setup on stage, Paul came out first at 8.30 to warm us up with his voice and acoustic guitar, (for the life of me I can’t recall what he sang first… you know when you’re that overwhelmed details slip your mind) next he introduced Cameron Bruce on keyboards noting that he’d come down from New South Wales to do this (Cameron also plays on the new album and has had a hand in one if not more of the songs on Life is Fine having played with Paul for a number of years now).
Long term bassist Bill McDonald takes his position next.
Then the sublime Vika and Linda Bull for their dynamic vocal duties. But when the next two come out I realise why they thought a live rehearsal might be fun and a treat for a select, fortunate audience, two of the regular band were off on Rockwiz duty so in steps Gus Agars on drums (Tex Perkins Ladyboyz, The Vandas, Mike Noga’s Gentlemen of Fortune) and Dan Kelly on guitar.
PK introduces his nephew and very talented singer songwriter as his housemate, who apparently cooked dinner from them all that night.
What a powerhouse band which was to be expected but seeing them in such an intimate setting made everything more present and everyone in the audience was transfixed keen to hear the new songs and thrilled to be treated with many hits as well.
Obviously not knowing the full track listing of Life Is Fine during the gig I only know for sure that they played Firewood and Candles and Petrichor possibly Letters in the Rain and a cracking song I thought might have been called Something Good but I’ll have to wait until August 11 when it’s released to find out.
Interweaved through the set, which went for almost two hours, were other favourites of mine including Leaps and Bounds, Deeper Water, Careless, How To Make Gravy and the room turned into a bit of a sing-a-long during From Little Things Big Things Grow.
Particular highlights were the classic Before Too Long (Dan Kelly looking a bit more relaxed once that was over given the unmistakable lead break first played by the late great Steve Connolly on the album Gossip) and Sweet Guy with vocals this time by Linda Bull which was a fantastic twist on such a powerful song (the sisters each take lead vocal duties on two songs on the new album).
A veteran now of something like 23 albums under various guises, PK is a much loved Australian treasure from gifting us Post in 1985 (spawning the local’s favourite From St Kilda To Kings Cross which he never seems to play anymore), through to Stories of Me, Merri Creek Sessions, Death’s Dateless Night (with Charlie Owen, songs played at funerals) 62 year old Paul Maurice Kelly was asked by his record company a couple of years ago “When are you going to do a normal record?” we get that, apparently, when Life Is Fine is released on August 11.
Paul and band are about to embark on a tour of Europe and North America, cross everything they announce local shows for their return.
For more info on Life Is Fine click here
For your chance to win tickets to intimate and rare gigs like this visit triplem.com.au and sign up to the Triple M Club