Sharon Burgess – paul-kelly-kingspark-perth-22
Picture: Sharon Burgess

Review: Paul Kelly at Kings Park, Perth, 25 November 2017

Living legend.

A packed house of faithful supporters was on hand as Kings Park played host to the renowned Paul Kelly on the back of his 23rd studio album Life Is Fine.

Sydney indie rock three piece Middle Kids broke air tonight with a fantastic performance of songwriting and musicianship culminating in their two most recognisable hits ‘Edge Of Town’ and ‘Never Start’. A 30-minute set was an all too short teaser for the appreciative punters. The perfect entrée.

Steve Earle, solo and acoustic, slapped the Kings Park audience an early upper cut by playing his most recognisable hit ‘Copperhead Road’ as an opener with the hilarious conclusion, “Well, that’s sorted!” It was an extremely clever introduction that instantly hooked the crowd and guided them through a set of stories and song featuring hilarious anecdotes, life experience and mistakes made. ‘My Old Friend The Blues’ was one of many songs that perfectly showcased the road-worn veteran’s iconic, gravelly voice. Earle’s performance alone was well worth the entry fee.

It’s always a privilege to witness an artist like Paul Kelly. A bona fide legend of Australian music, Kelly has created a legacy of songwriting and storytelling with hits spanning nearly 40 years. It would be easy for Kelly to give the audience a ‘paint by numbers’ walk down memory lane of all the fan favourites, and realistically, this would be enough, but the tank isn’t empty yet.

Under a clear, warm night sky, Kelly opened with three songs from Life Is Fine, proving the guy still knows how to write a cracking tune. The album’s title track was the perfect opener performed solo and acoustic, with Kelly’s band joining him for ‘Rising Moon’ and ‘Finally Something Good’. All three songs were glowingly received by the Kings Park crowd and worthy additions to a prodigious catalogue of favourites to come.

‘Before Too Long’, ‘Careless’, ‘Deeper Water’ and ‘To Her Door’ were peppered amongst an entertaining set of highlights which included talented sisters Vika and Linda Bull soloing their own Kelly-written dedications.

But it was ‘Dumb Things’ that brought the seated area front of stage to its feet, much to the chagrin of festival security. ‘Sweet Guy’, ‘How To Make Gravy’ and a rousing cover of the Travelling Wilburys’ ‘Handle With Care’ – which featured the return of Earle and Hannah Joy from Middle Kids – rounded out the set to a huge standing ovation.

Two encores gave us ‘Darling It Hurts’, ’16th Floor’, and ‘Bradman’, among others, finishing with ‘Leaps And Bounds’.

It was a two-hour performance by a man at the top of his game, supported by a band of musicians at the top of theirs.


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