The Triffid, Brisbane
Saturday November 15, 2014 :
Alexander Gow of Melbourne band, Oh Mercy, opens for Paul Dempsey on this very hot summer night at Brisbane’s newest venue, The Triffid. His crisp voice echoing above the dome shaped stage. His set is short and sweet, not keeping fans waiting too long for the man they have come to see, Paul Dempsey.
Dempsey opens to a thunderous applause and some rather rambunctious crowd members, opening with ‘Private Rain’ to start the show. He plays soulfully, the sweat pouring off his face in the steaming dark band room. The crowd are clearly passionate and this is a little distracting at times even for Paul, stopping the intro to his second number to enquire “Everything alright over there ladies? You don’t have like a.. oh no, I’m not going to make G20 jokes” before resuming playing ‘Bats’, his voice at perfect pitch. Eventually he can’t help himself and he makes a few G20 jokes dedicating a song “Ah f** it, I’ll dedicate this to the G20” – he gives in.
If the crowd have come to see Dempsey play their favourite Something for Kate songs then this is not the show for them. He steers clear of playing the typical songs ‘Monsters’ and ‘Echolalia’, the more popular choices and plays more of the B-sides and lesser known songs. He plays these in sort of a rebellion to his band mates, at times cheekily giving them the finger. It’s his show and he’s going to play what he wants. When Paul Dempsey wants to play what he wants he goes on a solo tour, which is great for fans who are happy to indulge him, and the crowd are treated to some unreleased numbers. The true brilliance of watching Dempsey play is knowing that every single note he sings comes from his gut, wrenched from the very depths of his soul and spewed forth in excellence with a unique voice that has the ability to cut right through you and make you feel what he was when he put pen to paper. No matter what he sings, you feel it and this is why he is revered by so many.
As rebellious as he may be feeling, Dempsey is in fine form tonight and the audience is captivated. With the temperature soaring above thirty degrees, several times during the evening he stops to enquire if the crowd is OK. “How are you guys doing out there, are you OK?” – he is genuinely concerned for everyone’s comfort. But they are happy to sweat along with him in the suffocating heat, and when he plays ‘Theme From Nice Guy’, the crowd are singing along to every “La da da di da” of the chorus whole heartedly.
The evening is wrapping up and Dempsey brings out Alexander Gow for a few covers. Singing in perfect harmony they cover The Motels’ ‘Total Control’ taking turns to sing each verse and coming in together on the chorus. Gow sings in an octave higher than Dempsey and somehow this works.
If doing solo shows is what it takes to get Dempsey to sing his favourite songs and bare his soul then let’s hope he does this a little more often. When he sings ‘Ashes to Ashes’, David Bowie’s classic – a song he reserves for only the solo shows, it makes his rebellion towards his band members worth it.
Reviewer and Photographer: Amanda Starkey