Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly played to a packed Queen’s Hall with his own brand of low-key folk-rock, featuring only him and his nephew Dan Kelly, who played guitar and occasionally keyboard. While the show was technically sound and the music well-rehearsed, there was little spark or fire in the performance to suggest that for Kelly this was anything more than one more stop on the tour diary.
The audience clearly knew Kelly’s work exceedingly well, joining in on many of the choruses and receiving the performance at large enthusiastically. However, from the perspective of those unfamiliar with the music, the basic composition of his songs and the sedateness of the lyrics did not provide much insight or innovation. One song about three fishing buddies finding a dead woman by the river was downright problematic.
Maybe it’s too much to expect from a musician who clearly knows his strengths and is happy playing to them. Kelly’s voice is warm and his writing often intimate. A show with the same audience numbers but in a smaller space might have been a better fit for the music on show. Equally, some more engaging stage patter than ‘it’s nice outside today’ would not have gone amiss. For fans of Kelly, this was a rare chance to see him on our island, but for music fans looking for something new and exciting, this was a show to miss.