Paul Dempsey live @ The Spiegeltent, 07.09.10
It’s a shame The Spiegeltent is only a temporary construction because it’s one of the best Brisbane venues I’ve ever been to. I’m here for The 7:00 Show With Paul Dempsey tonight, and I’ve once again landed myself a comfy booth with a perfect view of proceedings. The area’s actually pretty small so I can’t imagine anyone feeling short-changed; indeed the intimacy of the setting perfectly suits Dempsey’s quiet intensity.
Perhaps the warm, ill-lit room puts the performers at ease too, because I’ve never seen him so… chatty. The few times I’ve caught Something For Kate have been at festivals though, so maybe his particular brand of dry wit falls a little flat over 5,000 people, but tonight he’s at his charming best. He opens with radio favourite ‘Out The Airlock’ and immediately I’m entranced, forgetting all about my criminally expensive prawn cocktail. After the last notes fade out he quips: “Sorry, that’s a morbid way to start a Monday evening. Well, I suppose you’re here so you know what you were in for. ” He pauses. “At least it’s better than CSI Miami.” Another pause. “I hope.”
His set is surprisingly dotted with Something For Kate songs and a pleasingly laissez faire attitude. He tells us he’s given up on setlists, having become used to New York bars in the last few months, and so meanders through old SFK numbers, a good handful off his solo record Everything Is True, and even a few brand new ones. They aren’t disappointing, and promise more of his sharp-edged, cynical lyricism. A highlight, and perhaps as a result of his time abroad, is a cover of MGMT’s ‘Time To Pretend’. Bent around the roughened edges of his voice and strummed inexpertly on a borrowed acoustic, it sounds amazing and suggests the song is far better than I gave it credit for.
He even dedicates a song to his mum who’s in the audience, though he admits he struggled to pick a song from his rather dark back catalogue, settling on the wryly upbeat ‘Bird In Basement’. (Ladies – and gentlemen of that persuasion – he dedicated a song. To his mum. I am not necessarily romantic but damn. That’s pretty fucking cute. Even my boyfriend wanted to throw his undies on stage after that.)
After spending the last few months seeing almost exclusively local, up-and-coming sort of bands it’s a restful change to watch someone effortlessly hold a room in thrall with skill and grace. I was a little bit in love with him before (in grade 8, I even made a lumpy bust of his head out of clay for art class) but after tonight I’m totally infatuated.