Spring and Fall Tour Diary – Supporting Paul Kelly pt 2
ROCKHAMPTON Friday July 26th
Today we drove 9 hours from Townsville to Rockhampton for our show at the Pilbeam Theatre. Playing shows supporting Paul Kelly in regional spots like this is pretty far removed from the audiences I play to and I love the challenge. Still there’s nothing like wandering outside the venue before the show starts and feeling like I’m about to rap at a rodeo. Aussie Blokes with Aussie Guts under tucked-in show shirts, wander in alongside their wives dressed in Sunday Best. Immaculately attired old ladies carry handbags and smile warmly as they catch my confused glance like “don’t worry kid, you’ll be fine”. Either that or “are you my grandson?”
At worst, the shows have received polite applause at the end of each song; at best, fairly raucous yelling and some heartening support from an open-minded audience. Paul lurks side of stage like Mr Miyagi, welcoming us as we finish. This guy is unreal, the amount of times we peel off stage and see him nod approvingly is an honour I can’t process at the moment.
We fade out hard after the long drive and crash out. Jane has the original Jurassic Park – classic tour movie for a budget motel. It turns out to be one of the sequels and T-Rex is let loose on America. This movie needs more The Rock. I go to sleep.
BUNDABERG Saturday July 27th
We wake up and face down the make or break first world problem of the day: breakfast. We google recommended cafes and put our trust in an internet review by ‘Julie’ as well as an image of a meal this joint cooked once. The contentiousness begins if one of our party gets a bad vibe (it’s the little things), or if the café is full of senior citizens. I know it sounds like a flimsy premise for a generalisation, but the custom of older people at a café is a reliable tipoff that it’s subpar. Lovely old grandparents are sticklers for each meal of the day being served at an appropriate time: breakfast 7 – 9am, lunch 12 – 2 etc. Appropriate eating time is way off our radar and if you’re going to fire up the coffee machine and torture my long black no worries just don’t charge me $4.50. We’re haggard, wandering aimlessly around an unfamiliar town wiping sleep from our eyelids.
Bundaberg that night is the best show yet and the crowd were brilliant. Post show is the moment where everything aligns into a neatly wrapped zen tortilla – a good gig prompts smiles and hugs and a semi-private outpouring of relief.
About 20 minutes later Paul politely leads his troops side stage. Motioning to J Walker in a firm voice “Hey Greg, you go first, you’re on the other side of the stage” at which point they line up in a single file and walk onstage to excited applause.
There’s an air of joy backstage after the show and Paul insists we join him for a Bundy and Coke. It feels like something clicked tonight and the whole touring party became a little tighter. I gave Paul an Elefant Traks hoodie. He’s barely taken it off since.
MARYBOROUGH Saturday July 28
9am Sunday morning at Alexandra Park in Bundaberg kicking the Sherrin with Paul, Greg, Zoe and Bree. A true Crows fan, Paul semi-seriously runs drills and has a respectable kicking efficiency. I’m unfit and shank every second kick. I’m a Swans fan so neither of us brings up Tippett.
We’re starting to find our feet with Kelly’s audience; tonight felt great except for one heckler who yelled out “we don’t give a shit” during a self-deprecating story I was oversharing. I found out later the whole heckle was “you’re in Maryborough so we don’t give a shit” which roughly translated to friendly reassurance that I shouldn’t be embarrassed. As a committed mumbler I’m always in awe of direct communicators.
After the show I hit the merch desk and started chatting with a local punter. I asked him for a tip for a good café brekky in the morning. I assume I was unknowingly producing some kind of needy artist hormone because to my horror he pulls out his wallet and uncomfortably starts removing a few coins as if to tip me.
“Dude, no! Thank you but I didn’t mean that. I meant local knowledge of a good cafe!”
“Oh yeh” he says, “I thought that was weird.”
These kind of things remind us we’re definitely the support act. Tomorrow we head to the Gold Coast.