PAUL KELLY with Peter Elkas at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), August 18. Tickets: $15 Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
when you're a national idol with a catalogue packed with incredible songs and more than 20 years and as many albums under your belt, it's either a tragedy or a victory that you're singing in front of a packed El Mo instead of a sold out ACC. I'll go with the latter, and I'd bet every smiling face, including Paul Kelly 's would agree. Accompanied only by guitarist, singer and nephew Dan Kelly , he had every soul in the place hanging on his every word. Every emotive strum of his six-string seemed to dilate the captive crowd's pupils as if they were young lovers in a trance. That's what this Australian does when he's in his element: he makes you feel emotions you haven't felt in a while, and inspires you to write sappy lines about young lovers' pupils.
He's a journeyman with a penchant for dry, sarcastic couplets one minute and heartbreaking iambic pentameter the next. And he can tell a complete, compelling story song after song. Kelly classics From St. Kilda To Kings Cross and Luck had those in the know singing merrily along, but it was the more recent Every Fucking City that brought the house down. The spare immediacy of the El Mo definitely helped hit each song home.
The place was filled with older, long-time fans as well as younger scenesters getting hip to what this Aussie's all about. Even Sam Roberts and bandmate Dave Nugent humbly stood at the back taking in the tunes, driving home the fact that Kelly's influence has stretched to a new generation.
Peter Elkas of the Local Rabbits opened the show, playing songs from his new EP, Party Of One. His powerful though mellow performance, reminiscent at times of the late Jeff Buckley, was a bonus, and his forthcoming full-length spinner should feature more of the same cool tunes.