The Canberra Theatre
(3 February 2018)
As frontman for much loved poprock act Something for Kate and, of late, solo artist in his own right Paul Dempsey has been gracing stages all over the country for decades. His instantly recognisable voice, endearing melodies and charming persona have been winning over audiences for longer than anyone cares to remember.
Currently touring with Milk Records golden boy Fraser A Gorman, Dempsey’s solo sets are a pretty low key affair. He and Gorman have both stripped away any accoutrement and have made themselves, their songs and their stories the front and centre focus of the whole affair.
The Canberra Centre can be an intimidating place for a lot of artists to play, particularly those coming from club shows. There is no place to hide and no way to rely on hype to get crowds onside. The audiences are captive and the more genteel feel to the setting means that the acts are under closer scrutiny than they are often used to. Both Gorman and Dempsey acknowledge that and concede they’re feeling a little pressure. It’s worth noting that both of them thrive in that environment and it seems almost ideally suited to their storysong-followed-by-anecdote routines. Dempsey also shows that as well as a highly accomplished songwriter his reputation for interpreting the work of his contemporaries is one he truly deserves.
Special mention ought to go to whoever was running lighting because the spotlighting with backlighting combination worked perfectly to create a mood that did the music and performances justice unusually well.
If there is any complaint at all to be made about the show, and the troll in me is compelled to find one, it is that the show seemed to sit at a consistent state from beginning to end. Both artists performed extremely well but that might be the issue; that since things were so good from start to finish it’s hard to identify a high point or climax. The genuine friendship that seems to exist between the two performers, coming through in the stories they both told separately about touring, begs for some shared stage time. If ever the two ever come through this way again I hope they’ll consider working up a few numbers to perform together. I suppose if that’s the only complaint to be found about a couple of hours spent getting lost in razor sharp songcraft we’re doing ok.
One of our leading craftsmen of refined acoustic pop’ – The West Australian
‘Paul Dempsey retains his place as one of Australia¹s best songwritersŠ immediately pleasing, but never predictable. It seems like Dempsey never takes the easy option when writing songs and it means that the songs have an extra kind of depth.’ – Double J
‘Dempsey is a gifted observer of the human condition’ – The Daily Telegraph
‘With Paul Dempsey, the tally for genius lyrics per second is positively bafflingŠ one of Australia’s finest songwriters’ – Beat Magazine
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