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LIVE: PAUL KELLY – Kalgoorlie, 29 Feb 2024

| 1 March 2024 | Reply

LIVE: PAUL KELLY – Kalgoorlie, 29 Feb 2024
Goldfields Arts Centre, Kalgoorlie
By Shane Pinnegar

Paul Kelly has been soundtracking the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Australians for so long that it’s hard to imagine a time when his insightful storytelling wasn’t inextricably entwined in our lives and our culture.

And it’s TIME itself which the maestro is celebrating on this tour, which Perth Festival has generously brought to the usually music tour-neglected Goldfields hub of Kalgoorlie.

TIME is not just the hook upon which hangs this lap around our vast sunburnt country, but also the title of Kelly’s themed compilation album released in 2022: thirty tracks loosely linked by time itself – “songs about slow time, fast time, lost time, wasted time.” Time is also something he shares generously with the sold out Goldfields Arts Centre – this is a two hour show, featuring no less than twenty-five fantastic songs.

Before Too Long kicks the ball into play, a song which cannot fail to get punters swaying singing, clapping and feeling good. When has PK ever let us down? Not tonight, that’s for sure.

“It’s good to be back here in Kalgoorlie,” he says humbly. That’s another thing we love about Kelly – despite his ferocious talent, he’s one of us, an everyday bloke just as likely to be sipping a beer at the bar as to be standing on stage delivering the soundtrack of our lives.

Time & Tide – co-written with The Pigram Brothers from Broome – is next, the setlist a mixture of classics and hidden gems, always engaging, always delivered immaculately by his band.

And what a band they are: nephew Dan Kelly, an established solo artist in his own right, on guitar and mandolin. The sublime Jess Hitchcock on backing vocals and multiple duets with the boss. Guitarist Ashley Naylor, who has leant his talents to more acts than we have time to list here – if you’ve listened to Australian music in the last 35 years, you’ve almost definitely heard him. Journeyman drummer Peter ‘Lucky’ Luscombe, recognisable to most from The Black Sorrows & TV’s Rockwiz. Bill McDonald, a veteran of Frente, Rebecca’s Empire and many more on bass. Finally, on keyboards, Cameron Bruce, who in addition to Kelly, has played with a myriad of artists from Dog Trumpet to Jodi Phillis to Phil Jamieson to Jimmy Little and far beyond. It’s an Oz rock dream team.

Songs come thick and fast: amongst others, there’s the sole new track from Time, Back To The Future; the gorgeous and amusing When I First Met Your Ma; To Be Good Takes A Long Time and You’re 39, You’re Beautiful, And You’re Mine – both captivating waltzes of very different hues; Every Day My Mother’s Voice, co-written with Dan Sultan for a documentary on footy player Adam Goodes; a brief recitation of Shelley’s poem Ozymandias; and Every Step Of The Way, dedicated to local Aunty Tessa and performed with only Bruce’s sparse keyboard backing.

The pleading If I Could Start Today Again is also performed sans rhythm section, regret dripping from every word; I Wasted Time – written with help from ol’ mate Bill Shakespeare, as was Sonnet 60; and late guitarist from Kelly’s The Messengers, Steve Connolly, is paid homage through the irrepressible To Her Door and Same Old Walk.

Deeper Water, written for our own fair state leaves Kelly with a thirst. “I’m sure looking forward to a beer after the show.” Whether he was fishing or not, in no time at all an audience member places a fresh coldie in front of him – how’s that for Kalgoorlie hospitality. “Goodbye water – hello beer!” he says, delighted, and takes a big swig before crowd favourite How To Make Gravy has the packed crowd in raptures and in fine voice.

Land rights classic From Little Things Big Things Grow finishes the main set, one of this country’s most important pieces of art, and a culturally empowering song which those in power and privilege should be constantly reminded of.

The band return for an encore, starting with 50’s style ballad Young Lovers, featuring some cool slide from Naylor; the ever-wonderful Leaps & Bounds; and a cover of John Cale’s Buffalo Ballet.

To say that Paul Kelly is a national treasure doesn’t even begin to do his importance justice. His songs range from the fun and catchy, the heartfelt and empowering, to important touchstones such as Little Things, To Her Door and Gravy. He’s a storyteller, and his songs and stories reach a part of us that defines the human condition. It’s no over-reach to say that tonight’s show was more than just a collection of fine music: it was life-affirming and, in a way, a spiritual experience.

Before Too Long
Time and Tide
The Pretty Place
Back to the Future
When I First Met Your Ma
To Be Good Takes A Long Time
You’re 39, You’re Beautiful, And You’re Mine
Love Never Runs on Time
Every Day My Mother’s Voice
Cities Of Texas
Every Step Of The Way
If I Could Start Today Again
I Wasted Time
Sonnet 60
Winter Coat
To Her Door
Same Old Walk
Won’t You Come Around
Deeper Water
How to Make Gravy
From Little Things Big Things Grow

Young Lovers
Leaps and Bounds
Buffalo Ballet


Category: Live Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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