Paul Dempsey Brisbane Festival Review @ The Tivoli Theatre

Paul Dempsey played Brisbane Festival's 'Tivoli In The Round' (17 September, 2019). Paul Dempsey played Brisbane Festival's 'Tivoli In The Round' (17 September, 2019).

One of the most distinctive voices in music, Paul Dempsey has been a constant presence in the Australian music scene since Something For Kate released their debut album 'Elsewhere For 8 Minutes' in 1997.

His years of experience showed as Dempsey proved a consummate performer in his first solo trip back to Brisbane in nearly two years.

Performing as part of the Brisbane Festival for Tivoli In The Round (17 September), the iconic Valley venue was transformed; with a rig set up to resemble a boxing ring assembled in the middle of where the mosh pit would typically be.

Dempsey – after making his way through fans reclined in couches and down the makeshift runway – made sure he engaged with fans on all sides (calling out to north, south, east and west Brisbane was a constant refrain during the evening) and he knew how to use his space well.

There was one tiny mishap in the evening, where he literally dropped the mic on his face when adjusting the stand where it hit his guitar that caused a few sound issues. But luckily for fans, he assured the crowd that his best work came when he was "rattled".

Unmissable in his red blazer, red and white spotted shirt, and black jeans; he launched his set with a favourite Something For Kate song ‘The Captain (Million Miles an Hour)’, before settling into some of his solo work including ‘Blind Spot’, ‘Ramona Was A Waitress’, ‘Theme From Nice Guy’ and some new yet-to-be-released Something For Kate material including ‘Super Computer’.

His voice throughout was as powerful and clear as ever, and as people have come to expect from Dempsey, it really took flight when he undertook some favourite cover versions, namely ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ and a fantastic version of Sam Brown’s ‘Stop!’.

Earlier in the evening, Melbourne singer-songwriter Fraser A. Gorman charmed the crowd with his humour and quirky strum-pop; blending elements of Pavement (who he covered) with The Panics. He completely won over the audience when he called his girlfriend on stage to cover John Prine’s ‘In Spite Of Ourselves’, with the two playing their roles with a warm affection.

Overall it was a night of nostalgia with performances stripped-back of pomp and pretence – take for example the way Dempsey chose to move into the part of the evening’s encore: "Let's not do the little pantomime," he said.

With a promise of more Something For Kate music to come and new tour to promote it, Brisbane fans went home with happy hearts.


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