Paul Kelly – Hollywood Avondale: March 22, 2024 (Concert Review)

Paul Kelly along his nephew Dan, performed, what was billed, as an acoustic show at Auckland’s Hollywood Avondale, but the atmosphere was electric, especially when a “special guest” was introduced.

Kelly had spent the previous ten days at Roundhead Studio recording a new album…and some of those songs were performed here for the first time  ever.

Rodney FisherBut first, it was Rodney Fisher who took the stage, warming the crowd up with songs from his recent solo album, Art School Dropout, along with a few Goodshirt chestnuts. Sadly, many of us were standing in a very long queue waiting to get in during the opening set. I’m not sure what the holdup was, but I’m glad it wasn’t raining.

I fact, it was a beautiful autumn evening, perfect for Paul Kelly and his songs. Kelly is a master storyteller and tunes like Leaps And Bounds and How to Make Gravy still resonate with fans almost 40 years after they were released.

“Here’s a couple of songs from last century he announced before playing Careless (1989) and Before Too Long (1986). Accompanying Paul and his acoustic guitar was nephew Dan Kelly on electric guitar and harmony vocals. The younger Kelly let loose with a bit of a guitar solo at the end of Before Too Long and the audience loved it…and so did Paul.

Paul KellyClearly enjoying himself and the vibe Paul moved on. “Alright, to the 21st Century” and the setlist got “modern” with 2001’s The Pretty Place.

Paul told us that the recorded he’s been working on should be out in October and then we were treated to songs that are likely to be on it including Norther Rivers and Taught By Experts, both songs that have popped up elsewhere in the Kelly catalogue.

“This is fun” is noted as he suggested to Dan and us that it was time for a “genre song”, that genre being songs about apparel, noting there have been many classic  over the years including Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat, The Boots Are Made For Walkin‘ and I Love My Leather Jacket, the mention of which got a huge cheer. Tonight’s apparel song was Winter Coat.

We did get a brand new song titled Going To The River With Dan…getting its first public performance, but my personal highlights were the two songs that preceded it…They Thought I Was Asleep and If I Could Start Today Again, bboth solo performance and both featuring Paul Kelly’s storytelling at its finest, with lyrics that are at once deeply personal and yet, universal.

After an hour of the Paul and Dan show it was special guest time…”a piano player…Mr. Neil Finn!”

Paul Kelly

Clearly things had been going well at Neil’s studio and the Kiwi songwriting legend perched himself behind an electronic keyboard and Paul Kelly introduced, “one of my favourite all-time songs,” Four Seasons In One Day.

The evening had escalated into something even more special.

Paul KellyNeil stayed on for the remainder of the set, although his keyboard packed it in, forcing him to take up an acoustic guitar for set closer, How To Make Gravy.

Of course there would be an encore and after a lovely Young Lovers, Neil was back with the two Kellys, keyboard mended, and sounding good as they played us out with Leaps And Bounds and…one more surprise…a cover of John Cale’s Buffalo Ballet, taken from Cale’s 1974 album, Fear.

As the chorus of “Sleepin’ in the midday sun” faded in the heritage building fans couldn’t be happier including a few notable musicians such as The Beths, Reb Fountain and Dianne Swann. You can be sure when New Zealand musicians of this caliber venture out to catch a show, its going to be worth while, and it was. Thank you Paul Kelly for this performance, for the catalogue of songs you’ve given us and for the ones to come.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Lachlan Kirkwood:

Paul Kelly:

Rodney Fisher:

Paul Kelly setlist:

  1. Time And Tide
  2. Careless
  3. Before Too Long
  4. The Pretty Place
  5. Northern Rivers
  6. Taught By Experts
  7. When I First Met Your Ma
  8. Winter Coat
  9. They Though I Was Asleep
  10. If I Could Start Today Again
  11. Going To The River With Dan
  12. From St Kilda To Kings Cross
  13. The Magpies
  14. Love Never Runs On Time
  15. Four Seasons In One Day
  16. To Her Door
  17. Dumb Things
  18. Deeper Water
  19. How To Make Gravy
  20. Young Lovers
  21. Leaps And Bounds
  22. Buffalo Ballet