Live Review: Dan Kelly, Ben Ely

26 October 2015 | 4:27 pm | Matt MacMaster

"It was a loose, freewheeling set that was overflowing with levity and charm."

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Dan Kelly's Leisure Panic album launch was a rousing success. It was a loose, freewheeling set that was overflowing with levity and charm and showcased Kelly's chops as both a bandleader and axeman.

His support, Ben Ely (Regurgitator), had a very different hat on this evening, playing some pretty dour material mostly focused on a deep cynicism of Sydney (and quite possibly all major cities...) and his desire to break free. It was a quiet set of songs that he wrote during a secluded recording session outside of Brisbane, and while it was a little flat, it was interesting to hear a completely different (and straightforward) side to one half of one of Australia's most idiosyncratic bands.

Dan Kelly's wry humour was a key drawcard, and it was on point last night with songs dedicated to someone with a crush on Sarah McLeod from The Superjesus (Creme De La Creme De La Creme), the strangely charmless appeal of Byron Bay (Everything's Amazing), and the blatant exploitation of handouts (Baby Bonus). It wasn't just the sly grin people were drawn to; it was the excellent songwriting that backs it up. The breezy dream-pop R&B number Haters sat comfortably next to the muscular krautrock adventurism of On The Run, an hypnotic epic that let Kelly get lost in circular riffs and had everyone kind of spinning out for a while. The stomping joy of The Catholic Leader kept things lively and lead single Never Stop The Rot was Kelly and co at their best, moving through catchy riffs and sliding easily from smirking cynicism to a perky singalong chorus and then towards a bright fuzzy finish that had us all smiling.

The two halves were in stark contrast: Ely's solitary vigil making way for Kelly's rainbow light rope-decorated set and his band of players in tennis skirts and loose shirts. It was a great show supporting some of Kelly's richest material in years.

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