The Triple Door
January 31, 2013
Two-and-a-half hours before he took the stage at the Triple Door on a misty Thursday night, Paul>"/>
Paul Kelly January 31, 2013
January 31, 2013
Two-and-a-half hours before he took the stage at the Triple Door on a misty Thursday night, Paul Kelly bounded in to a suite adjacent to his dressing room, a 22-ounce bottle of Oregon's Abominable Winter Ale in one hand, and a pint glass filled with it in the other. Kelly, who will return to Seattle in May with a full band (which includes his nephew), is currently touring alone, and quickly began talking about his three children, all of whom are musicians. His daughters, ages 21 and 19, play in a trio called Wishful, the sort of band you'd expect the offspring of Australia's greatest living folk singer to play in. But his son, a sound engineer and father of Kelly's two grandkids, is a house DJ who often spins under the moniker Dreamkit.
While he is often accompanied only by his own acoustic instruments--guitar, piano, and harmonica--Kelly is a sonic omnivore. "I like it when music collides," he says. "That's how music keeps going." Rattling off an exhaustive list of up-and-coming Aussie artists he's excited about, Kelly speaks of hip-hop in terms of reverence typially reserved for Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan, with whom he's toured and is often compared.
"Hip-hop's a universal language," says Kelly. "It's good for storytelling."
Onstage, however, Kelly leaves such newfangled fare to his progeny. While his trips to Seattle--one of his more receptive stateside audiences--inevitably compel him to pull up a chair at Lowell's to admire the Pike Place restaurant's spectacular Puget Sound view, it's the patrons inside such workaday haunts which are the subjects of his songs.
"I write about people," Kelly says. "I'm slow. I need nothing time. Songwriting is kind of elusive."
Yet such elusiveness hasn't stopped Kelly from cranking out a new album every couple years for the past 30. Last night, he spent the first half of his set plowing straight through his latest, the lovely Spring & Fall, released last year. Onstage, Kelly is quick and jovial, with more than a hint of mischievousness lurking just beneath the surface. His recitation of the chorus lines from "I'm Gonna Be Good from Now On" and "I Just Wanna Sleep With Someone Else" drew instant laughter from the audience, clearly familiar with the sort of romantic, rambunctious life Kelly's lived. When he rolled into his classics for the second half of the show, "I Can't Believe We Were Married" elicited similar amusement.
Shortly before a three-song encore that included "Deeper Water" and "Have You Ever Seen Sydney from a 747?"--Kelly's Boeing-centric play on a Joe Ely classic--Kelly sat at his piano for a gorgeous rendition of "You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed." Kelly's lyrics are often witty and self-deprecating, but the guy's never quite given up on epic love. He writes about people, yes, but the most interesting person he writes about is unquestionably himself.