25 September 2023

Paul Kelly – live At The Sydney Opera House

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Paul Kelly, ABC Music/Universal Music 2019.

This double CD is the audio stream of Paul Kelly’s famous concert that was broadcast live from the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House in 2017.

For those of us who saw the concert, and/or have the DVD, you’ll attest to the magic of the night and the unsurpassed quality of the performances.

For the few of us who may have missed the experience it’s now available in this two CD set.

For nearly two hours Paul mesmerised a sold-out audience of admirers by tracking his way through his extensive catalogue from the classics such as Dumb Things, to To Her Door, From Little Things Big Things Grow, How To Make Gravy, Before Too Long, Darling It Hurts (To see you down in Darlinghurst tonight) Deeper Water and many more as well as some of his rarer offerings like Petrichor, Letter in The Rain and Sonnet 18.

His band was in great form and included his nephew Dan Kelly and the wonderful Bull sisters, both of whom were given their own songs to showcase their immense talents.

Vika’s rendition of My Man’s Got A Cold, the ultimate put down of ‘man flu’, has always been one of my personal favourites.

What was amazing to me when I was watching the concert was that the younger members of the audience seemed to know every word, even of his lesser known tracks like Our Sunshine.

As a songwriter there can be no greater accolade than to have a full house of people of all ages singing your songs at the top of the lungs.

I have reviewed many Paul Kelly albums, sung his praises (and songs), and exhausted my list of superlatives and here I am confronted with yet another example of why he is Australia’s greatest ever songwriter.

Tracking my way through these 29 songs I am constantly amazed by Paul’s ability to pack so much into the traditional three plus minute popular song format and just how sparing he is with his language considering the sometimes complex issues he is writing about.

It’s the small bits of telling detail that he includes that stands him apart from virtually all of his contemporaries.

If you’re one of the few music lovers in Australia who doesn’t have a Paul Kelly album then this album is a good one to get.

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