One of Australia’s most loved and respected artists Paul Kelly will embark on a colossal Antipodean tour this November and December. Touring in celebration of his album Life Is Fine (out now through EMI) which just debuted at the top of the ARIA Album Chart, Kelly will tour Australia, visiting both regional and metro cities, before heading to New Zealand for three theatre performances.
Kelly will be joined by a stellar line-up of special guests across the tour, with Steve Earle and Middle Kids supporting for the Brisbane to Perth leg of the tour, Busby Marou supporting in Darwin, Cairns, Townsville and on the New Zealand leg of the tour, The Eastern supporting for all New Zealand shows and Sahara Beck as support at the Rockhampton show.
Kelly’s recently released 23rd studio album Life Is Fine (out now through EMI) showcases this stellar songwriter in firm command of his craft. The 10-time ARIA award winner has achieved his first ever #1 album in his almost 40-year career as a recording artist. The deliberately ambiguous album title – on one hand affirmative, and the other a nod towards interpretations of ‘fine’- is in Paul Kelly’s own words, about ‘never knowing what’s around the corner’. The title track’s lyrics are from a poem by American writer Langston Hughes.
One of his strongest and most evocative albums, Kelly takes backing vocals on tracks ‘My Man’s Got A Cold’ (lead by Vika Bull) and ‘Don’t Explain’ (lead by Linda Bull). “I wonder why I hadn’t thought of it sooner, to have another voice on my records besides mine,” Kelly comments, “A lot of my favourite bands have that.”
One of the reasons behind Kelly’s enduring power as a songwriter is his continual drive to break old habits and refresh his creativity. In Life Is Fine there are songs with an R&B groove like the sizzling opener, ‘Rising Moon’, jumping rockers like ‘Firewood and Candles’ and ‘Rock Out on the Sea’ and fun songs like ‘Leah: The Sequel’. The humorous tunes contrast with another of Kelly’s exquisite songs of regret, ‘Letters in the Rain’, and the rich imagery at the heart of ‘Petrichor’.
There is no question Paul Kelly has had, and continues to have an impressive music career. He has fronted numerous groups, including The Dots in 1978 where he produced his first charting track ‘Billy Baxter’ and The Coloured Girls (later changed to The Messengers) in 1985, where Kelly’s genius for songwriting emerged.
Kelly captures the vastness of Australian culture and landscape with his trademark bluegrass mixed with folk-rock. Through his storytelling, Kelly and The Messengers went on to release some of the most patriotically recognised songs like ’Leaps and Bounds’, ‘Before Too Long’ and ‘Darling It Hurts’.
Lead single for the band’s second album Under The Sun, ‘To Her Door’ demonstrated Kelly’s finest quality as a songwriter; unforced empathy. ‘Dumb Things’ followed and remains one of Kelly’s most iconic rock songs to date. In 2016, he joined Australian hip hop group A.B Original and singer-songwriter Dan Sultan to give a modern spin on the track for triple j’s Like A Version – raising seriously contentious issues facing Indigenous Australians.
Never shying from his country’s history, Kelly hones the skills of fine balladeer, narrating the story of the Gurindji Strike and Vincent Lingiari as part of the Indigenous Australian struggle for land rights and reconciliation in ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’. He also collaborated with members of Indigenous band Yothu Yindi to write ‘Treaty’ which was voted into APRA’s Top 30 Songs of All Time in 2001.
Kelly’s solo career has seen him compose music for film and TV, write alongside some of Australia’s most respected artists (Mark Seymour, Neil Finn), and in 1997 following the release of his compilation album Songs from the South which peaked at #2 in Australia and is certified quadruple platinum, Kelly was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame.
Throughout his musical career, Kelly has produced esoteric expeditions which include adapting classic poems to music (Conversations With Ghosts), recording an album of songs for funerals (Death’s Dateless Night with Charlie Owen), a soul album (The Merri Soul Sessions) and using Shakespeare’s sonnets as lyrics (Seven Sonnets & a Song).
In 2010 Kelly released his ‘mongrel memoir’ How To Make Gravy (titled replicated from his 1996 song ‘How To Make Gravy’ which received an APRA nomination for Song of the Year in 1998) which set a new benchmark for Australian rock autobiographies. Ian Darling’s 2012 documentary Paul Kelly: Stories of Me is an intimate portrait of Kelly that follows his 40-year career and won Best Documentary at the Film Critics Circle Award in the same year.
Joining Kelly as very special guests for his shows from Brisbane to Perth is American folk singer-songwriter Steve Earle and Sydney’s indie-rock trio Middle Kids.
Three time Grammy Award winner Steve Earle, whose songs have been recorded by such legends as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Carl Perkins gained attention from 1986 breakthrough album Guitar Town. Earle’s current release So You Wannabe An Outlaw (out now through Warner) sees him return to his country roots, bringing in Willie Nelson for the title track, roaring a powerful anthem for ‘The Firebreak Line’ and ‘If Mama Coulda Seen Me’.
Sydney band Middle Kids blazed out of the gates with their anthemic alt-rock single ‘Edge of Town’, from their 2017 debut self-titled EP. Days after the release, Middle Kids made their live TV debut on US show Conan, with their international profile bolstered by Elton John announcing he was a fan. Their combination of hooky tune craft, ripping Music Row-inspired slide guitar leads and soaring melodic vocals carry through in ‘Your Love’, ‘Never Start’ and ‘Doing It Right’.
Also joining Kelly as special guests on his Darwin, Cairns and Townsville shows are Rockhampton duo Busby Marou. Recognised for their delightful harmonies blending with melodic, acoustic tunes and heartfelt lyrics, the band won the APRA Award for Blues & Roots Work of the Year for 2012 hit ‘Biding My Time’. Recent release and ARIA number one Postcards From The Shell House champion Busby’s breezy croon and Marou’s earthy guitars in tracks ‘Best Part Of Me’, ‘Paint This Land’ and ‘Getaway Car’.
Joining Kelly as a special guest on his Rockhampton show is Brisbane songstress Sahara Beck. Nominated for 2012 Song of The Year at the QLD Music Awards for ‘You Could Be Happy’, Beck’s infectious, restless spirit stretches her beyond her folk-rock. Soft, sultry vocals caress songs ‘Here It Comes’ and ‘Spinning time’ from latest album Panacea with Beck singing with the wise witticisms of a world-weary blues artist.
Don’t miss your chance to see one of Australia’s foremost singer-songwriters Paul Kelly in concert this November and December. Fans are encouraged to act quickly in securing their tickets; all shows are on sale Monday 28 August.
Paul Kelly Life is Fine Tour 2017
Saturday 4 November – Entertainment Centre, Darwin
Tuesday 7 November – Convention Centre Great Hall, Cairns
Wednesday 8 November – Entertainment Centre, Townsville
Thursday 9 November – Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton
Saturday 11 November – Riverstage, Brisbane
Sunday 12 November – Regional Botanic Gardens, Coffs Harbour
Tuesday 14 November – Regional Entertainment Centre, Tamworth
Wednesday 15 November – Entertainment Centre, Newcastle
Friday 17 November – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
Saturday 18 November – MONA Main Stage & Lawns, Hobart
Sunday 19 November – Opera House Forecourt, Sydney
Wednesday 22 November – Entertainment Centre Theatre, Adelaide
Saturday 25 November – Kings Park & Botanic Garden, Perth