Death’s Dateless Night

St David’s Cathedral, on the corner of Murray and Macquarie Streets in Hobart, is a building I see almost every day and, consequently, have become immune to its presence.

Originally it was a replacement for the wooden St David’s Church that was erected in St David’s Park over the grave of Lieutenant David Collins, and which blew over in a gale a few months later. Construction of the second St David’s Church commenced on the present site in 1817. When Hobart was granted city status in 1842, St David’s Church became St David’s Cathedral.

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The foundation stone for the current cathedral (the third St David’s Church) was laid in 1868, and the building was designed by the Victorian architect George Frederick Bodley. It was completed in 1874 and the old cathedral was pulled down. The final stage was the construction of the cathedral tower, which was completed on 1936, 68 years after the works started.

But I digress.

Much as I love finding out the history of Hobart’s old buildings, I wasn’t there on Tuesday night to look at the cathedral. I was there, as were a lot of other people, to hear the magical music of Paul Kelly and slide guitarist extraordinaire Charlie Owen come to life as they performed their Death’s Dateless Night show.

As I mentioned in my last post, this tour is a tour of the album, Death’s Dateless Night, a collection of songs that PK and Charlie have sung at funerals over the years. They are accompanied by PK’s daughters Maddy and Memphis Kelly, on backing vocals.

Not having been to a show at the Cathedral before, I was advised to arrive early to avoid getting stuck behind a pillar and not being able to see. We stationed ourselves at a bar across the road before 6pm to suss out the crowd.

  • Rookie Mistake Number 1: Believing that the doors would open at 6.30 as advised on the website.
  • Rookie Mistake Number 2: Not seeing a crowd outside the closed Murray Street door, assuming that this was because it wasn’t 6.30 yet, and assuming no one was waiting. They were waiting. Inside the Cathedral, having gone in the Macquarie Street door long before 6.30.

Ooops.

We found a pew, sort of behind a pillar, but which gave us a relatively unimpeded view of what we hoped would be PK’s mic.

We sat and waited for an hour, admiring the pillars, until the support act, a lovely duo called Sweet Jean, took to the stage. Sweet Jean is Sime Nugent and Alice Keath, who was one of the guest vocalists on PK’s Seven Sonnets and a Song album that came out earlier this year. Slabs has played some of their material on his radio show.

I enjoyed their music and it set the scene really well for the main story.

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Our view. We could just see PK!

The first “act”, as PK called it, was a play through of the Death’s Dateless Night album, minus Track 7. I couldn’t figure out which track had been missed, but it all made sense later on.

The standout for me was “Good Things”, written by PK and Charlie’s former band mate Maurice Frawley. I felt Charlie’s intense guitar during this track really captured a sense of grief for the loss of his friend. (Maurice Frawley died in 2009.)

The ‘folk song from the British Isles’ (“Let It Be”) has never been a favourite Beatles track of mine, and though I appreciate the work that PK, Charlie, Maddy and Memphis put into this, I’m still not a fan. Nevertheless as versions go, this wasn’t bad.

PK mentioned that he had seen Leonard Cohen work up close, and his version of “Bird On A Wire” was very moving, coming so soon after Cohen’s death.”Angel Of Death” was the end of Act One.

The second part of the show was a selection of mostly older material that PK had chosen because it fitted the theme. First up was two of the Sonnets from Seven Sonnets and a Song – “Sonnet 60” and “Sonnet 73”. Before Sonnet 73, PK pointed out all of the guitars and instruments Charlie had played on the new album, including his Bakelite guitar, which he used in this track.

Later: “Everyone’s so quiet in here,” said PK.

“It’s a church,” whispered someone in the audience.

“I know!” PK replied.

Next up was a Tex, Don and Charlie song, which I wasn’t familiar with, called “Postcard From Elvis”. It appears on their 1993 album Sad But True. This was followed by “Pretty Place”, originally on PK’s 2001 album … Nothing But a Dream. He spoke of how the title was inspired by Banjo Clarke, and the Pretty Place was where he used to go to get away from everything. (I googled Banjo Clarke. He was born in 1923 at the Frelmingham Mission in Victoria, on his family’s ancestral land and his mother was originally from Bruny Island.)

A concert of songs with the theme of death was never going to be complete without the one PK song that never fails to make me cry, “Deeper Water”, and this time was no exception. I was in tears from the very first riff. A song of love and of loss. Dammit I don’t even like the song, but I’m drawn to it like the people in the song are drawn to the deeper water.

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Spring and Fall from 2012 is one of PK’s albums I’m not super-familiar with, so I didn’t recognise the track “Time and Tide”, but he told the story of its origin, around a campfire in the Kimberleys. The one new song he played was the poem “Life Is Fine” by American poet Langston Hughes.

So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve died for love-

But for livin’ I was born

The next track needed no introduction – well actually it did, because it’s not a track that immediately comes to mind as a funeral song. PK explained he’d been asked to play his Christmas song “How To Make Gravy” at the funeral of Melbourne AFL player Rob Flower. It’s one of his best-loved songs. This rendition, with Charlie’s guitar, gave me a new appreciation of this song, especially towards the end, where the guitar amplifies the protagonist’s fear that his brother is going to steal his wife while he’s in prison, how gutted his is that he can’t be with his family at Christmas, and he’s so very sorry for what he’s done and for hurting his family. I could hear the anguish in every note. This song made me cry too.

It wasn’t quite the end though, and we were treated to a solo performance of “Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air”. The missing track from the album. And then, an encore, “I Wasted Time”, with the appropriate words:

I see old friends at funerals now and then

It’s down to this – it’s either me or them

Charlie returned to the stage for another moving track, “They Thought I Was Asleep” (from Foggy Highway), and Maddy and Memphis reappeared for the last song of the evening, a real oldie, “Cities of Texas”.

And then they were gone.

It was a serene, contemplative evening. Unlike many other PK shows, there were no loud talkers and no drunken calls to “play To Her Door” – although I didn’t expect there would be. There was an air of solemnity about the show, and complete respect for the artists and their music.

I am grateful to have shared in this experience. Thank you PK, Charlie, Maddy and Memphis. And thanks Slabs for buying me tickets for my birthday!

Paul Kelly

I love Paul Kelly.

He’s my favourite artist of forever. The last time I saw him (other than at Hobart airport when I had to move Kramstable, who was dancing round, totally oblivious to the fact that he was between most people and the bathrooms, out of Mr Kelly’s way en route to said bathroom) was in February 2011 at the Theatre Royal when I caught the final of his A to Z series of shows with Dan Kelly.

I’ve missed the last couple of tours he’s done in Hobart for various reasons (I can’t remember, probably something lame, I don’t like crowds or big festivals) and said to Slabs that next time he comes, I don’t care what the show is, I’m going.

One thing I love about Mr Kelly is that he is constantly changing his act. if he’s not making new material, he’s reinventing old material or someone else’s material to make it his. He’s made soundtracks (Everynight Everynight, Jindabyne); he’s turned his music bluegrass (Uncle Bill, The Stormwater Boys); he’s made up bands to experiment with different styles of music (Professor Ratbaggy, Stardust 5); he’s been in a musical (One Night the Moon); he’s performed his material with a band, acoustically, and then with another band, and then another one. He’s done soul music (The Merri Soul Sessions); he’s combined with Neil Finn to produce one of the most divine musical experiences I have ever witnessed (Goin’ Your Way). He’s even put Shakespeare to song. He has collaborated with too many musicians to count on their albums and on his own.

He has been part of my life since late high school when I discovered Under The Sun for the first time, his 1987 follow-up album to Gossip. These were the days of cassettes, and my friend Graeme lent me his copy. These were also the days of the double cassette player, so I’m sure you know the story here.

Funds were limited, and Gossip was a double album with 24 tracks for only a couple of bucks more than the standard length Under The Sun, and in those days my focus was on the number of tracks I was getting for my dollar, not necessarily whether they were my favourite tracks, so I dutifully purchased Gossip on cassette for $13.99.

I didn’t actually have a double cassette player. I remember wanting one, but the budget I had for a portable stereo allowed either for a double cassette player or a single with removable speakers and a graphic equaliser. (These babies were expensive back then too, not $50 like they are now.) Rationally, I figured that removable speakers were much more important because I’d be able to set them up around me, and several of my friends already had double cassette players, so I didn’t actually need one.

Graeme was kind enough to lend me Under The Sun, even after the previous cassette he’d lent me, one of those Hot Hits of 198X or 198X with a Bullet compilations, had been shredded in a double cassette deck after being unable to cope with the strains of Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy. Most people would probably not see this as a bad thing, but I still went out and replaced it for him, thereby parting with the money I could have used on Under The Sun in the first place. That’s karma for you right there.

Needless to say I am now the legitimate owner of Under the Sun on CD, along with most of Mr Kelly’s back catalogue of released work, with the possible exception of some limited edition material I never quite managed to justify getting.

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My PK shelves

His most recent release accompanies the current tour. It’s called Death’s Dateless Night. It’s an album he recorded with Charlie Owen, slide guitarist extraordinaire, conceived out of a discussion they’d had driving to a friend’s funeral about songs they had played at funerals.

To anyone who isn’t an avid collector of Mr Kelly’s music and is mostly familiar with his more commercial work, this album might not appeal. It’s very mellow, as you’d expect. Contemplative, reflective.

Only two of the songs are written by Mr Kelly – Nukkanya (from the 1994 album Wanted Man) and Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air (from Foggy Highway, which he recorded with Uncle Bill in 2005), so if you’d hoped for a reinterpretation of his own songs you’d probably be disappointed. The album includes some classics, like Don’t Fence Me In, and Leonard Cohen’s Bird On A Wire, which seems particularly appropriate, given Mr Cohen died last week. There is a lovely track called Good Things, which was written by former member of Mr Kelly’s band the Dots, the late Maurice Frawley, as well as a version of Let It Be, which is a Beatles song I have never liked all that much.

It’s not a big “jump out and grab you” album. It’s one that sits there, grows on you and subtly reminds you that (in the words of Kasey Chambers) we’re all going to die someday. It’s deliberately understated. Mr Kelly says:

We kept the sound live and sparse, just the two of us, except for the occasional vocal by family members – my sister Mary Jo and my daughters Maddy and Memphis. I stuck to singing and playing acoustic guitar. Charlie was the swing man, playing dobro, lap steel, electric guitar, synthesizer and piano.  I managed to talk him into singing some harmonies too.

So this is the show that I’ll be going to see next week. The shows are all being played in churches and cathedrals, and not having set foot in one of these places since possibly a wedding I attended in 1999 (and a couple of minor churches in the UK, you know, like Salisbury Cathedral and St Paul’s), I think it will feel weird to sit in St David’s Cathedral to see a show.

I’ve been listening to the album over the past few days so I’m familiar with the material when I see the show.

Speaking to someone earlier in the week who said they didn’t really like this album inspired me to revisit Mr Kelly’s back catalogue and create my own playlist of alternatives to the greatest hits that people who are mostly familiar with his better-known material might not have heard. That is, my favourite songs that you can’t find on Songs from the South (Volumes 1 or 2).

I tried to include at least one track from each Mr Kelly’s albums, and the only criteria were (a) I had to like the song and (b) the song (or the version of  it in a couple of cases) wasn’t included on Songs From The South. I haven’t included work from soundtracks like Funerals and Circuses, Jindabyne, Conversations with Ghosts etc as I haven’t listened to these enough. I did look at his work with the Dots (I know he has disassociated himself from this work, but I do like some of the songs. They are very much of their time.)

This is the playlist.

  1. Want You Back (Paul Kelly and the Dots, Talk, 1981.)
  2. Alive And Well (Paul Kelly and the Dots, Manila, 1982.)
  3. Blues For Skip (Paul Kelly, Post, 1985 – I can remember hearing him play this live at the ANU Bar in the 1990s and not being familiar with it at all. It really struck me.)
  4. Gossip (Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Gossip, 1986 – I love this song but it was left off the original CD release.)
  5. Forty Miles To Saturday Night (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Under The Sun, 1987 – this evokes memories of the end of school. A great time and one of my favourite of his songs.)
  6. You Can’t Take It With You (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, So Much Water So Close To Home, 1989. You really can’t.)
  7. Don’t Start Me Talking (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Comedy, 1991 – a follow up to Gossip perhaps?)
  8. Little Boy Don’t Lose Your Balls (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Comedy, 1991 – this is about exactly what the title says. Probably don’t play this one to your mum unless she doesn’t care if you say fuck. It has a hidden track at the end on the album.)
  9. Hey Boys (Paul Kelly and Mark Seymour, Garbos Soundtrack, 1992 – this is just great! I know I’ve seen the movie. I can’t remember it. Mark Seymour is of course, former lead singer of Hunters and Collectors.)
  10. Reckless (Paul Kelly and the Messengers Hidden Things, 1992 – Hidden Things was an album of rarities and previously unreleased tracks from 1986 to 1991. Reckless is a song by Australian Crawl. In this version you can understand the lyrics.)
  11. She’s Rare (Paul Kelly, Wanted Man, 1994 – Mr Kelly’s first album post The Coloured Girls/Messengers. I like its funkiness.)
  12. Maybe This Time For Sure (Paul Kelly, Wanted Man, 1994.)
  13. Anastasia Changes Her Mind (Paul Kelly, Deeper Water, 1995 -this track is cool. The “kiss on the mirror” line was inspired by a time Mr Kelly’s then wife went on a trip and left a lipstick kiss on their’s daughters’ bedroom mirror that stayed there fore months. Fascinating to think that a little thing like that could get mixed up with a a girl who fell in love and cancelled her travel plans. The title track of this album makes me cry.)
  14. Madeleines’s Song (Paul Kelly, Deeper Water, 1995 – written for his daughter Madeleine.)
  15. Beat Of Your Heart (Paul Kelly, Words and Music, 1998 – this song includes vocals by Renee Geyer and Rebecca Barnard, as well as musicians that Mr Kelly had either been working with and/or continued to work with with over the next few years including Bruce Haymes on keyboards, Peter Luscombe on drums, Shane O’Mara on guitar, Steve Hadley on bass and Spencer P Jones on guitar. I love the beat of this one.)
  16. Saturday Night And Sunday Morning (Paul Kelly, Words and Music, 1998.)
  17. Sydney From A 747 (Paul Kelly and Uncle Bill, Smoke, 1999 – a mix of old and new Paul Kelly songs given the bluegrass treatment with Melbourne band Uncle Bill. This song was originally called Sydney From A 727 when it appeared on the 1991 album Comedy. The plane got bigger over the years.)
  18. Taught By Experts (Paul Kelly and Uncle Bill, Smoke, 1999.)
  19. Coma (Professor Ratbaggy, Professor Ratbaggy, 1999 – released at the same time as Smoke, this was a side project with Steve Hadley, Bruce Haymes and Peter Luscombe. This song was written by all four band members, as were most of the tracks on this album. It was released as a single, but it was Love Letter that made it onto Songs from the South.)
  20. One Night The Moon (Memphis Kelly, Kaarin Fairfax, Paul Kelly, One Night The Moon, 2001 – from the movie One Night The Moon directed by Rachel Perkins, which tells the story of a missing child (played by Paul Kelly and Kaarin Fairfax’s daughter Memphis Kelly), the indigenous tracker (Kelton Pell) who searches for her, and her parents played by Mr Kelly and Ms Fairfax.
  21. This Land Is Mine (Paul Kelly, Kelton Pell, One Night The Moon, 2001 – explores the difference in attitude between the missing girl’s father, played by Paul Kelly, who “owns” the land, and indigenous tracker Albert Yang (Kelton Pell) who is “owned” by the land.)
  22. I Wasted Time (Paul Kelly, …Nothing But A Dream, 2001)
  23. To Be Good Takes A Long Time (Paul Kelly, Ways & Means, 2004 – the backing band was called the Boon Companions and included Mr Kelly’s nephew Dan Kelly, Peter Luscombe, Dan Luscombe and Bill McDonald.)
  24. Your Loving Is On My Mind (Paul Kelly, Ways & Means, 2004.)
  25. You’re Learning (Paul Kelly and the Stormwater Boys, Foggy Highway, 2005 – a bluegrass album featuring some old Paul Kelly songs and some new ones, as well as this cover version of a song by American country artists Charlie Louvin and Ira Louvin, which features Kasey Chambers on vocals.)
  26. Zoe (Stardust Five, Stardust Five, 2006 – a side project of Paul Kelly, Dan Kelly, Dan Luscombe, Peter Luscombe and Bill McDonald and this track features the vocals of Mr Kelly’s then-partner Sian Prior as well as (I think) Dan Luscombe.)
  27. The Lion And The Lamb (Paul Kelly, Stolen Apples, 2007 – the last album to feature the Boon Companions and is described as having a “biblical” theme. I don’t know this album very well but I like this song.)
  28. For The Ages (Paul Kelly, Spring And Fall, 2012 – this album came after the 2010 release of Mr Kelly’s epic 8 CD live box set of The A to Z Recordings and his 500+ page “mongrel memoir” How To Make Gravy, and a lot of tours, including the show I saw in 2011. This album features Dan Kelly on guitar.)
  29. Before Too Long (Paul Kelly and Neil Finn, Goin’ Your Way, 2013 – This was a series of concerts that Paul Kelly and Neil Finn did in March 2013 where they performed tracks from their careers and re-interpreted each other’s work. One of the concerts was live-streamed and it was one of the most wonderful events I have ever seen. I love this version of Before Too Long, and Zoe Hauptmann’s bass is just magnificent on this track. There is a fabulous version of For The Ages as well.)
  30. Hasn’t It Rained (Paul Kelly, The Merri Soul Sessions, 2014 – an album recorded with artists including Vika and Linda Bull, Dan Sultan, Kira Puru and Clairy Browne, with Paul Kelly rarely featuring on vocals. I loved this album, but apparently during the tour some people were disappointed because they were expecting a “Paul Kelly” show, and they got Merri Soul. It always pays to check, because a Paul Kelly show might not be a “Paul Kelly” show.)
  31. Sonnet 73 (Paul Kelly, Seven Sonnets and a Song, 2016 – again one that wasn’t for everyone. This was Mr Kelly’s tribute to William Shakespeare, and was released on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April 2016. It features Paul Kelly and a collection of musicians including Vika and Linda Bull, Lucky Oceans, Alice Keath, and his band (Peter Luscombe, Bill McDonald, Ash Naylor and Cameron Bruce) singing seven sonnets put to his own music and Vika Bull singing Sir Philip Sidney’s “My True Love Hath My Heart”. I found it curious and compelling.)
  32. Good Things (Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen, Death’s Dateless Night, 2016 – and here we are back where we started with Maurice Frawley’s song, although he wasn’t with the Dots for their first album.)
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PK’s 2016 releases

I could have kept going, but I had to draw the line somewhere, so it’s 32 tracks. One hour 46 minutes. It’s a bit long for a mix tape so I’ll have to cut it down so I can dub it on my double cassette deck. Ha.

I’d love to know what you think of my choices, and if you have your own alternative (to the) Paul Kelly greatest hits playlist, please share!

The final countdown

For the past four years I’ve spent my Tuesday evenings tucked away in the studio of the Derwent Valley’s community radio station, TYGA FM, bringing back fabulous music from the 1980s that never really went away.

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I haven’t written much about my life in community radio, because there didn’t seem to be much connection between an 80s-music loving tragic and the world I write about here. However, today marks the end of my journey with community radio and it feels like a good time to reflect on where it’s taken me.

I never intended to be on air. It was Slabs’ thing. He was involved with the station from very early on in its life, helping to set it up in 2009. His Sunday evening show is one of the few original shows from 2009 still on air, and he was President for almost four years.

The story of how I came to be involved goes like this:

Slabs and Kramstable filled in for one of the other presenters when he was away for a few weeks, back in 2012. Kramstable loved this, and set himself up as a radio presenter at home. Slabs asked him if he wanted to do his own show, which he absolutely did, and so a couple of weeks before his sixth birthday he launched his show, which was then called Sunday Recess.

I wasn’t going to be outdone by a six-year-old, and I had this germ of an idea for a show of my own, which I developed during my daily walks. (This is where I get most of my ideas.) It was going to be a 1980s music show with a twist. Each week I’d feature an artist who had been successful in the 80s, but rather than look at their 80s material, I’d look at where they’d come from and what they’d become post their 80s career. So I’d take material from their previous bands, later spin-off bands, solo work, work they’d produced, cover versions of their material – whatever they’d done.

The original idea was that I’d play six to eight songs for each week’s feature artist and talk a bit about their history, then for the rest of the show I’d play a mixed bag of 80s tracks from all over the place.

And so it came to pass, and after three or four weeks in the TYGA FM Sandbox, which was our on-air training slot, I did my first show of Octogenarius on 25 September 2012. The first artist I looked at was Paul Kelly, because I could think of no one better than my favourite artist to launch the show. I loved it.

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Notes from my first show

My on-air persona was called Dolly Ringwald, obviously in honour of 80s poster child Molly Ringwald. Dolly may or may not be connected to Dolly Parton, but I don’t think I’ve played a single song of hers on the show.

Over time the format changed, and I started to fill the whole hour with material from the feature artist. This was great, because I could explore their career more fully, but it also started to take a lot of time to prepare. From a few jotted notes, I went to a typed script and a fully programmed playlist that was taking me four or five hours to prepare each week. This isn’t an amount of time that’s easy to find during a typical week, and it started to feel like a burden rather than something I was doing because I enjoyed it.

So rather than stop, I went from a structured show to a show where I played whatever took my fancy at the time. All from the 80s of course. I’d occasionally do a themed show: Hair metal, Pub rock, and a feature called “Dolly’s Diary” where I played tracks from artists who were born on that day. And a Eurovision show to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest each year. That was always fun.

A highlight was participating in the Women in Community Radio Program in 2014,  which involved managing a small project at the station and presenting a report to the national Community Broadcasting Association Conference. This was a fantastic opportunity, and I met some fabulous women in the sector who are out there doing great things! And the project I did has links to what I’ll be doing a bit later in my #steppingonthecracks project, so I feel like I’m not completely abandoning this part of my life.

But although it’s great to be on the radio, in the past 12 months or so I’ve been feeling that it’s not working for me.

I’m not putting the effort into the show that I think it deserves. I don’t feel passionate about turning up each week and throwing some songs on. I want it to be more than that, but right now there are other things that are more important to me than researching a new show each week. I’ve increasingly been feeling like if I can’t give the show the attention that I want to, then maybe it’s time to step away.

I’d been reluctant to say anything about this because it’s been something that we’ve all been involved in for so long that I felt like I’d be letting the team down if I quit. I know this isn’t the case, and my decisions are my own, but it’s how I’ve felt. Realistically I probably should have done this 12 months ago, but I have enjoyed having a double life and revisiting musical memories from my teenage years. But recently a couple of planets have aligned, and I’ve finally, belatedly, felt able to the plunge. Or jump out of the frypan. Or something.

So tonight is my final show. I have mixed emotions about this because I’m still enjoying doing the show – it’s just that the spark isn’t there.

There are some songs that lend themselves to my final playlist. The Final Countdown by Europe comes to mind, as this was the very last song that was played on Countdown. But if my timing’s right, my last song will be the very first one I played on my first show back in September 2012.

Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me and given me the opportunity to have this experience. It’s been fun.

If you feel that way inclined, you can listen to my final show on 98.9 Tyga FM in Tasmania at 8.00 pm tonight or livestream it.

And I think I’ll keep Dolly alive for now, at least in social media so @octogenarius lives, as does TYGA FM-Octogenarius.

And for the history of Octogenarius and play lists look no further than my AMRAP page. And that’s it.

I’ll miss all this, but I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and for the chance to take what I’ve learned forward into my next adventure.

Kensington Road runs straight for a while

Kensington Road runs straight for a while
Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide, Australia


The weather was no better this morning than it had been yesterday. In fact, it was probably worse. The wind is horrible and we’ve seen reports of some severe damage having been done across the state. I’m beginning to think this is a consequence of us being here, because there were huge storms across central South New Zealand when we were there last year.

We left Victor Harbor (the lack of a “u” is apparently a spelling error by an early surveyor that was never corrected), a bit disappointed to have missed the activities that we’d gone there for.

Never mind. There was wine just up the road, and we set our minds to finding some wineries in McLaren Vale. Not that this is especially difficult to do. Tempting as it would have been to visit lots, we had picked out just two (I know). First up was Maxwell Wines, the attraction of which was their maze. They make the Maxwell Mead that I’ve seen in bottle shops at home, as well as a decent selection of reds and a few whites. As usual, Slabs went for the reds and I tried the whites. All of them.

We didn’t get lost in the maze, so that was a bonus!

We thought we’d call in to Goodieson Brewery on the way to Fox Creek, but they weren’t open, so that was a no go. Slabs had chosen Fox Creek because he’d had one of their wines in Hobart, and I really enjoyed their Vermentino, which is an Italian grape variety I’ve never had before. They only sell that one through their cellar door.

Once wine had been tasted and procured, it was time for the last leg of our toad trip. On to Adelaide. With visions of Paul Kelly singing “All the king’s horses, all the king’s men . . .” we set out in search of Kensington Road where, according to the song, Mr Kelly was raised and fed. On the bend.

It’s a long long road, and it does run straight for a long while before turning. There’s a roundabout there, at the bend. We drove all the way to the end of the road, which ends on top of a hill. The view of the city would have been good except for all the trees in the way!

There were no sightings of wisteria on any back verandahs, or great aunts, either insane or dead, so we said farewell to Kensington Road and went to look for our hotel. The numbering on South Terrace is interesting, to say the least, with odd and even numbers on the same time of the road. This is right up there with the 30 minute time difference and schooners actually being middies for “things that are different in SA”. Also 25 km/h roadwork and school zone speed limits, which are probably a very good idea.

We checked into the hotel. Its restaurant is being renovated so we had to go to the restaurant at the Chifley down the road, Hanuman, which was amazing. I want to stay here for a week so I can try everything on the menu.

P365 – Day 41 Paul Kelly (10/2/2011)

Take a look at my profile on the right hand side.
See where it says ‘I like my Macbook Pro, Paul Kelly and Dr Who’. Well in case you were wondering, the Paul Kelly I refer to is not the former Sydney Swans player nor is it the political journalist.
I am, of course, referring to The Paul Kelly, or PK as he is affectionately known to many of his fans.
Several years ago, he created a new type of show, which ran over four nights, in which he played 100 of his songs, old and new, in alphabetical order, A-Z. Twenty five songs a night, all reworked to suit an acoustic format. You could attend one night, two, three, or all of them.
The concept took off and he found himself doing more of these shows.
He generously made recordings of these tracks available for free from his website, one letter per month, over a two year period. Then the songs became the soundtrack for his memoir, prompted by the stories he told between the songs.  The book, How To Make Gravy, is a 576 page epic, accompanied by an eight CD box set of the A-Z songs re-recorded especially to accompany the book. I was lucky enough to get a copy of this wonderful package for my birthday last year.

Then last year PK announced he was going to do another series of the A-Z shows and this time he was coming to Tassie. Yippee!
Well true to form, I was extremely unorganised and didn’t book any tickets. I was trying to decide whether or not to go to. Budgetary constraints would have restricted me to one show anyway, and I was thinking about it, decided not to go, wished I was going, wasn’t sure if I should, then Slabs got sick and with a small child at home, thought it would be a bit unfair on him in the end. Add to this logistics of living out of town and it all seemed like too much.
Then last night (night 3 of the series), I thought I’d just look and see if there were any tickets for Night 4 (tonight). I asked Slabs if he was feeling better enough to give me a night off, rang a thoughtful relative to beg for a bed for the night and booked what could possibly be the worst seat in the house. The very back row, on the very edge of the row, with ‘restricted viewing’. That didn’t inspire confidence, but hey I had a ticket and I was going to see my favourite performer.
I was very excited! The very first time I saw Paul Kelly live was back in my student days, when he regularly toured with his band (then known as ‘The Messengers’), at the Tas University Bar. I used to baulk at the cost of the tickets back then, because $16 on a student budget was a fair bit of money in those days.
How things have changed! PK doesn’t play uni bars any more – at least not that I know of. Now he plays in theatres and at A Day on the Green. Tickets are more than $16. He’s older, wiser and has developed into one of Australia’s most iconic singer-songwriters.
And I am still a huge fan.
So to the show . . . it was fantastic! The Theatre Royal is a wonderful venue, a perfect size for a show like this. Even with my ‘restricted viewing’ seat I got a pretty good view of the stage and the action.
My view from HHH 16
Onstage was a grand piano and an easel displaying a large letter ‘S’. So that’s where we were going to start.
Here’s a very brief rundown of the set list, intermingled with some comments that I jotted down tonight.
PK came out to massive applause and I have to admit I got a little teary seeing the man in person after so long. Luckily it was dark, so I didn’t have to feel awkward about that . . .
He started with Stories of me, followed by Stupid song. Then his nephew, the wonderful Dan Kelly, emerged to accompany his uncle on the journey we’d just embarked on.

I must add I’m a big fan of Dan too, and must be sure to catch his show next time he’s touring, having missed him last time.
They played Standing on the street of early sorrows, which is a great song and Dan’s guitar was amazing. Then Stolen apples, a newer song, and Stumbling block, which is one of the tracks from PK’s Stormwater Boys bluegrass album. Dan played the ukulele, which PK informed us, he had only just purchased in Hobart, so it was his ‘Hobart ukelele’.

Of course an S set needed Sydney from a 747, which is one of my favourite tracks, and then Dan left the stage.

The next song was Sweet guy, which PK wrote from a woman’s perspective, and he shared a story about writing from different perspectives. He mentioned Hunters and Collectors and their song Say goodbye, and how great it had been at one of their gigs to hear 1200 men singing the line ‘You don’t make me feel like I’m a woman any more’.

Sweet guy is such a moving song.

Taught by experts. Another favourite, this time from the Uncle Bill bluegrass recording.

They thought I was asleep.

Thoughts in the middle of the night. I’m not familiar with this song, but was thinking Dan’s guitar in this had a real Twin Peaks feel about it.

To be good takes a long time. A really catchy little number. One of my favourites of recent years. (OK it’s actually from 2004, so if you consider that recent . . .)

He stops for a moment to tell us about his taxi ride in from the airport. The taxi driver says to PK that he looks familiar and asks if he was on TV. PK replies that yes, he has been on TV. Finally the taxi driver recognises him and says ‘oh you sang that song . . . they got married early . . . that was a good song’. PK acknowledges that yes, that was his song. A few minutes pass by and the taxi driver says, ‘oh you sang that other song, the one about the door. That was a good song too.’
To her door. Perennial crowd favourite.

Intermission.
Coming back into the theatre I decided not to return to my seat and I stood right up the very back. I wasn’t any further back than I had been, but I was in a more central position. It had felt kind of weird to be sitting down watching an artist I’d always stood up to hear in various bar environments. (To recreate this environment as best as I could, I also had a beer in my hand – in a stubby though, not a plastic cup, so it wasn’t quite the same!) I had a clear view down the aisle to the stage and I didn’t miss having to shuffle around in my seat every time the guy in front of me moved.
It was a better view. It was also a more moving experience for me.
It was a joy to watch the old master at his craft (yes, I probably need to be careful with using the term old), and to continue the analogy, his younger apprentice (although that’s a discredit to Dan, since he’s an accomplished artist in his own right) alongside him, enhancing his uncle’s performance and taking the performance to a more polished level than it would have been if it was just the master on his own. (Not that it would have been a bad show if Dan hadn’t been there, not at all.) He enriched the sound, made it feel somehow fuller, if that makes sense. And it struck me that some of the material would have been written, if not before Dan was born, then not that much after, and what a treat was to see these two performers of different generations and with different influences take that material and give it new life in such a cohesive way.
At the same time watching them together was a little bit sad, a reminder of how we all get older (a theme of one of the songs we heard a bit later in the night).  While our songs might live forever, we won’t.
But on with the show . . .
Until death do them part
One U song. Until death do them part. Apparently PK has been asked to play this at weddings.

We were up to V. PK has no songs starting with V, so he said that the Very Good Dan Kelly is Very Versatile, so he would be doing the next song. What followed would have delighted Juniordwarf completely. Dan told the story of his song Bindi Irwin apocalypse jam – one of Juniordwarf’s favourites. Then he taught the crowd the chorus so that we could sing along, and launched into it. I’m not sure how many of the older fans had heard it before – judging by the laughter it seemed to be new to many people there (but maybe I didn’t laugh just because I’ve heard it soooo often!) Nevertheless it was an unexpected treat to hear Dan play it live (and I loved how he changed the lyrics ever so slightly).

When I first met your ma, love like a bird flies away. Another oldie.

Wintercoat. Before he played this song PK recounted how he and Dan had paddled to Bruny Island in kayaks with a mate who had picked them up after last night’s show. They’d seen seals in the river and eaten steak at 3 am on the beach. The perfect way to follow up a show, he said. This has never been one of my favourite songs. In fact it’s one of my lesser liked songs, but tonight it was just fine.

PK has no X songs either. He said he had a few options, but was going to play an x-rated song, the first line of which was ‘I’m gonna fuck her right outta my head’. Everyone laughed. The song’s called Right outta my head.

Finally, after 17 songs, the piano was put into use with You can put your shoes under my bed. Then he was back to one of his guitars (he had many guitar changes over the course of the show) for You can’t take it with you.

Dan returned to the stage for You broke a beautiful thing, which PK had written for Renee Geyer. She originally didn’t want to sing it because she said it sounded like a country song, and she doesn’t sing country. I’m glad PK talked her into it. She does a wonderful version. As does its composer.
Your little sister, in which Dan rocked out.

A song which PK originally wrote for Tex, Don and Charlie. I couldn’t work out which song it was as he was telling the story about how it came about. I was trying to think of more Y songs, but they all escaped me.  PK told how Tex, Don and Charlie had wanted a song from him, but not a cast-off, they wanted ‘top shelf’ material, and how he hadn’t heard from them so assumed it wasn’t going to be on their album, then months later found it had made the cut. Then he described the trouble he’d had in getting his version just right. You’re 39, you’re beautiful and you’re mine. Of course it was. A very touching song.

(I didn’t know he’d written it for Tex, Don & Charlie and haven’t heard their version, but will be looking out for it.)
Your loving is on my mind.

Zoe, a track from his Stardust 5 project.

And that was it. S to Z.
I wondered if there would be an encore, because what else is there after Z?
But he didn’t disappoint. We were treated to Young lovers (the audience loved the line about the old man having to sit down to take a piss), You’re so fine and Summer rain (which a lady in the audience had been calling out for).

A second, and final, encore of Would you be my friend solo and then Dan returned, and to my absolute delight, they sang Under the sun.

I love this song! It’s the title track of the first PK album I ever heard (a couple of years after its release, mind you, I was a bit behind the times musically), and that song and the song I see as its companion, Forty miles to Saturday night, take me right back to the end of Year 12, leaving school, leavers parties, summer, fun . . . It was an almost perfect conclusion to the show (40 miles would have been perfect), that took me right back to my earliest memories of this wonderful artist, who has been part of my life for over 20 years.

What more could I ask for?
What a great night. I loved it and I feel on top of the world right now!