19 February 2013

Neil Finn and Paul Kelly live: Better be home to make gravy.

I saw two of Australia's (and New Zealand's) greatest musicians share the stage on Saturday night. It was amazing. Paul Kelly and Neil Finn are beautiful song writers and their voices complement each other. And they show so much respect to one another. I loved it and feel so lucky to have seen them play.

Lisa Mitchell opened the show - her voice and lyrics are dreamy. I really enjoyed her, but the large venue didn't quite provide the atmosphere she deserved.

Neil Finn and Paul Kelly entered the stage to a huge applause and cheering, and the appreciation for the duo continued throughout the show. As expected, it was a greatest hits show. They mixed it up a bit by singing each others songs at times, and providing harmonies throughout. It was beautiful. 

It was a family affair with Dan Kelly on guitar, Elroy Finn on drums and Zoe Hauptmann on bass. Dan Kelly did so well to play those long guitar riffs Paul Kelly's songs are famous for. Neil and Paul alternated on the guitar and piano.

Audience singalongs were encouraged - Better Be Home Soon's long chorus was cause for some friendly ribbing by Paul Kelly - "Who needs a chorus anyway?, he said, quipping that the next song features the word gravy a lot. 

Neil Finn remarked, on a number of times, how many words he had to learn - and Paul told him that at least he only had to learn four chords. The lyrics, both by Neil and Paul, were a reminder of just what great wordsmiths they are. Complicated, alliterative, rambling, poignant. 

The banter on stage was as enjoyable as the music - the pair placing bets on who would "fuck up first" - Neil apologising for leaving out a line, but adding that he sang one that shouldn't have been there. 

Both men were very rock and roll, arms swinging, heads banging, thermos sipping - clearly enjoying playing music - which is one of the reasons I've enjoyed seeing Crowded House play so many times. And finally I saw a full length Paul Kelly show. I have a book of Neil Finn's lyrics - I read it when I want to immerse myself in beautiful words and imagery - and I also have Paul Kelly's book which this show has encouraged me to read.

I took two sneaky photos, but the no photo rule meant I could really sit back and enjoy the show - watching and singing along in awe. 

Thanks for playing, Neil and Paul - it was a privilege. You are two of my wordsmith heroes.


  1. Great review - thanks for giving me a sense of the gig! Would have loved to see these two pair up on stage.
    You blog post title is a little wordsmithing, yourself, lady! Love it!

  2. Right. Sold. No that I had doubts (except the who's babysitting question), but this has sealed it Carly! Am taking my husband who needs to see these two live. Love this review and your writing Carly. Have you read Paul's book? You'll love it. Have a great week xx


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