Spring and Fall Tour Diary – Supporting Paul Kelly

by urthboy

Day One – Cairns Tues July 23rd


Green Room

I still get excited by flights, or at least flights long enough to watch a movie. I boarded my flight from Sydney with every intention of studying the work docs our accountant gave me as homework, then proceeded to watch a movie with The Rock. Fuckin’ The Rock. I imagine a salon-tanned prune riding a garish speedboat around the canals of Surfers Paradise when I think of his acting career. Of all the places in the world where people are happy to suspend their disbelief to enjoy a shit movie it’s on a plane. Nope. Tried.

Content with having ignored important work, my mind wandered to this tour supporting one of the best songwriters Australia has ever produced and the looming possibility of my grand scale public humiliation. I was sitting next to Lozz Benson, our 22 year old drummer on her first proper tour, who compulsively says sorry. Will the audience responses on this tour cause me to pick up this habit?

Jane met us at Cairns, having moved back to Melbourne recently. She’s a great friend, an amazing singer and super important to our show so it was great to see her. The fourth piece of the puzzle is Alex Dawson who plays keys but his knowledge of audio engineering and tour managing make him a good guy to have around.

Lozz, Jane and I size up the headliner..

Lozz, Jane and I size up the headliner..

I look at this tour as a great challenge – our plan of attack is to give a little context for my songs and hopefully trick people into tolerating the show. Just as a hypnotist waves a pocket watch. We get out there and enjoy the gig; I think the spell worked.

Paul very kindly asked Jane and I to join him for a song so I madly try and memorise the lyrics between my set and his. It’s all for nothing though, as I find myself standing beside Paul in front of a full theatre and promptly forget almost every line apart from the first and the second last. You haven’t lived til you’ve painfully mumbled non-words beside a hero in front of a full house. I’m the best! Jane wisely opted out.

This shot caught me trying to write key lyrics on my hand as a backup. I couldn't read the faint red texta so it totally failed.

This shot caught me trying to write key lyrics on my hand as a backup. I couldn’t read the faint red texta so it totally failed.

All was momentarily forgotten when we piled into Paul’s dressing room drinking his very tidy whiskey, all a little relieved that show #1 was in the bag. 27 to go.

The early set at 7.30pm meant we skipped dinner so my last triumphant moment was staring blankly at a frozen pizza in a microwave at 2am. Bought it from a BP. It was The fuckin Blob.

TOWNSVILLE Wed July 24th


Early gigs, early crowds.

Early gigs, early crowds.

The drive from Cairns to Townsville is one of my favourite drives anywhere. The rainforest and sugarcane; the mountains that shoot up like South East Asia and the rusted old factories puffing plumes of smoke. Jane and I spent time working on her verse for the aforementioned song we were doing with Mr Kelly. Given last night’s events I probably should’ve been working on my verse.

One of the perks of a touring musician is winter in the top of Australia.

One of the perks of a touring musician is winter in the top of Australia.

At Townsville’s Civic theatre I caught up with my Japanese sister-in-law Yuki and her 1 yr old Ren. When we ventured outside she laughed guiltily at the older men and women milling about. I tried to explain that it wasn’t quite the entire audience, but secretly I opened up the possibility of an awkward gig, like a packet of chips in a cinema. Our set was great though – the audience laughed and clapped and we walked off stage and back to our dressing room.

Paul and Dan saunter in strumming acoustic guitars to go over the collab that I’d forgotten the night before. Last night I told him I wouldn’t forget the lyrics again and in his easy way, Paul just shrugged it off with a smile. But not so much so that he didn’t want to practice it a little more tonight. Jane and I spent most of his set pacing backstage trying to learn the lyrics – Jane was a bundle of nerves moving around with headphones and a laptop going over the song.

The Paul The Dan

The Paul The Dan

Then the time comes and the first notes of the song ring out. We walk onto the stage.

We didn’t forget our lyrics.


Next show is 750kms away in Rockhampton, followed by Bundaberg and Maryborough as we make our way down to Brisbane.