Neil Finn and Paul Kelly Australian tour was first announced I was very excited because one of the two original dates at the Palais Theatre was on my birthday! Those shows on February 16th and 18th quickly sold out and they are now doing a total of 7 shows at the Palais in February and March. I'm not sure anyone expected this tour to be so popular, but it's not surprising when you have two of the best singer-songwriters from Australia and New Zealand joining forces.
Lisa Mitchell opened both nights with a half hour set. She was accompanied by Robert Vasey playing keyboards and drums while she switched between acoustic and electric guitar. Lisa's set sounded good and included "Pirouette," "Coin Laundry," "Neopolitan Dreams" and "Spiritus."
Paul and Neil emerged onto the dark stage with lit lanterns to the sound of crickets. They met in the middle, shook hands, and then launched into Paul's song "Don't Stand So Close To The Window." The songs mostly alternated between Finn and Kelly numbers throughout the evening with both Neil and Paul singing parts on each song. The band for this tour consists of Neil on piano/keyboards and guitar, Paul on guitar, piano and harmonica, Dan Kelly on electric guitar, Elroy Finn on drums and Zoe Hauptmann on bass. The amazing backdrops were once again created by Noel and Sally Crombie.
Many of Paul's songs really lifted the energy in the venue, including "Careless," "Leaps and Bounds," "Deeper Water," "How To Make Gravy," "To Her Door," "Dumb Things" and "Before Too Long." One of the best parts of the set was when Paul and Neil took turns singing one of each other's songs. Paul put his unique interpretation on Crowded House's "Into Temptation" while Neil did an amazing version of Paul's "(You Can Put Your) Shoes Under My Bed" solo on piano. This was my favorite moment of both shows as Neil's voice was just so strong and pure.
As you would expect there were many funny moments of banter. On the 16th, which was the first night of the tour, Neil and Paul joked about having a $100 tip jar for every time they messed up on a song. While Paul complained about having to learn all of Neil's complex instrumentation, Neil worried most about all the words in Paul's lyrics he needed to remember. Neil recounted how he got badly electrocuted at the Palais once and had to be rubbed down by a strong man in the crew. On both nights I thought Paul captured the spirit of Split Enz with his deadpan shaking of the bells on "One Step Ahead." And on the 18th Neil admitted to getting a perm before they shot the video for that song- it was the 80s after all!
Here's a little promo video for the tour: