Neil Finn & Paul Kelly @ Palais Theatre, Melbourne (Sat 16 Feb 2013)

went to this 11 years ago

This tour was announced some time ago, and on sale day, I was at the laptop eagerly pressing refresh refresh refresh until the Ticketmaster site let me in and delivered two seats in the 10th row to my inbox. The show sold out in some stupidly short period of time and more were announced. Here’s a spoiler alert- if you’re reading this while the tour is still on, please open a new browser window and buy tickets. You may then come back here and continue reading.

Right- off you go.

Seriously- go on.

OK- you’re back.

St Kilda BeachPalais Theater MelbourneMelbourne at this time of year is a truly spectacular place. Walking The Esplanade down St Kilda Beach, seeing that amazing sunset and then getting to The Palais was one of those moments when I realised that I really do love living here.

Unfortunately we arrived too late to see Lisa Mitchell. I think we’re cursed to never see her play live, which would be a shame as we’re both fans. This isn’t the first time we’ve arrived too late to see her do a support slot, and it seems whenever she’s playing a festival, she clashes with someone else. I guess it’s that train of thought that you can see an Aussie artist anytime, so when they clash with an international at a festival, the Aussie misses out (or in this case, we do).

We missed her headline tour in June 2012 because we were both extremely ill (my wife and I, not Lisa), and in the middle of moving house. We had amazing tickets to that show too. Wonder is a truly magnificent album, and from what I’ve heard of Bless This Mess, it’s up there as well. Next time Lisa, we promise!

It was a damned hot night in Melbourne (100 degrees, or maybe more?) and the venue felt like a sauna. I can’t remember being so hot at the Palais for any gig.

So, Paul Kelly and Neil Finn walk onto stage carrying lanterns, meet in the middle, shake hands, and start playing.

Neil Finn


They’re then joined on stage by the rest of the band, Elroy Finn (Neil’s son) on drums, Dan Kelly (Paul’s nephew) on guitar, and Zoe Hauptmann on bass.

Did I mention we were in the tenth row?

Of the orchestra?

Neil Finn & Paul Kelly

Neil Finn & Paul Kelly 2013We were treated to songs from both performers vast back-catalogue, with a lot of verse swapping, and the occasional song swap.

Both jumped around between guitar and piano, with Paul Kelly’s signature harmonica making it’s sound welcome on many Crowded House tracks.

Neil’s rendition of Paul Kelly’s You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed was sublime, but the highlight of the show for me, by far, was Paul Kelly singing an incredible version of Crowded House’s Into Temptation.

The on-stage banter was hilarious, especially around the occasional mistake made by both Kelly and Finn.  It really felt like we were all sitting around at a party watching some mates catch up over a song or three.  A really lovely night.

Paul kelly and Neil FinnI was surprised there wasn’t more classic Crowded House in the set. Being that I’ve not kept up with Neil Finn’s solo career (or The Finn Brothers duo stuff), there were more than a few songs tonight I didn’t already know. Not a complaint by any means, just an observation.

The last time I saw Neil Finn play was at Splendour In The Grass in 2005, which was a Finn Brothers show. Before that it was at Expo 88 in Brisbane at a Crowded House gig. Funnily enough Crowded House were one of my favourite bands growing up, yet I have rarely seen any of their incarnations live.

Neil Finn & Paul Kelly 2013Arguably, Finn is the more famous of the two, but it was Kelly’s hits that brought the house down – Before Too Long, To Her Door, Dumb Things and How To Make Gravy all causing a happy stir.

There were some Crowdies faves in there as well including Better Be Home Soon, Distant Sun and Don’t Dream It’s Over. Personally I would have loved to have hear more from Crowded House’s first two albums, but you can’t have everything, and we were treated to a couple of Split Enz classics, so I can’t complain.

Dan Kelly

Dan Kelly

The band must be mentioned too- they were truly sensational.

I’ve seen a gazillion Paul Kelly shows, and Dan Kelly has played at most of them. Tonight he was his usual unkempt yet classy self, providing wailing guitar when needed, but still having the prowess to play a lilting melody and sing like and angel when required.

Elroy Finn

Elroy Finn

I’ve not seen Elroy Finn play before (as far as I know anyway), but he was magnificent. From the rock of Kelly’s Dumb Things to the majestic brushwork on Crowded House’s Into Temptation, this man has some chops.

He also provided excellent backing vocals, and wasn’t afraid to join in the between-song banter to have a go at his father. Seems like a funny guy. He also came out and played a touch of acoustic guitar on one song.

Also worth noting that I’ve seen Paul Kelly play with a number of different drummers- Elroy Finn was the only one to truly capture the intricacies of Careless, and to play the fills in Before Too Long faithfully as they appear on Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls Gossip album. He played the Crowdies songs with the style and grace of Paul Hester. I’m guessing he probably grew up listening to the band rehearse etc, so these songs are surely part of his DNA by now.

Zoe Hauptmann

Zoe Hauptmann

Again, I don’t believe I’ve seen Zoe Hauptmann before either, but wow- what a bass player and vocalist. Effortlessly swapping between double and electric bass, she played like a demon and sang like an angel.

Neil Finn & Paul Kelly
I’m extremely tempted to try and get tickets to the last Melbourne shows of the tour in a couple of weeks, but as we’re already seeing Nick Cave, Sodastream, The Stone Roses, Fun and George Clinton that week, it could be a little difficult!

Anyway people- do yourself a favour and get tickets to this show- truly worth seeing and a once in a lifetime opportunity to see two of the planets most accomplished songwriters on the same stage.

Setlist (courtesty of Frenz Forum)

  1. Don’t stand so close to the window (Paul Kelly)
  2. Four seasons in one day (Crowded House)
  3. Before too long (Paul Kelly)
  4. She will have her way (Neil Finn)
  5. For the ages (Paul Kelly)
  6. Not the girl you think you are (Crowded House)
  7. Sinner (Neil Finn)
  8. Careless (Paul Kelly)
  9. Leaps and bounds (Paul Kelly)
  10. Won’t give in (Finn Brothers)
  11. Only talking sense (Finn Brothers)
  12. New found year (Paul Kelly)
  13. Into temptation (Crowded House)
  14. You can put your shoes under my bed (Paul Kelly)
  15. They thought I was asleep (Paul Kelly)
  16. Private universe (Crowded House)
  17. One step ahead (Split Enz)
  18. Dumb things (Paul Kelly)
  19. Deeper water (Paul Kelly)
  20. Better be home soon (Crowded House)
  21. How to make gravy (Paul Kelly)
  22. Distant sun (Crowded House)
  23. Winter coat (Paul Kelly)
  24. Fall at your feet (Crowded House)
  25. To her door (Paul Kelly)
  26. Don’t dream it’s over (Crowded House)
  27. Love is the law (Paul Kelly)
  28. Message to my girl (Split Enz)
  29. Words of love

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went to this 11 years ago