Live Review: A Day On The Green: Paul Kelly & Merri Soul Sessions

15 December 2015 | 12:27 pm | Naomi Keyte

"The Merri Soul Sessions gang hit the stage, with more than enough chops, sass and spunk to soothe thousands of hot, expectant spectators."

The grounds of the Peter Lehmann winery were a beautiful choice for such an enormously talented group of musicians to congregate. The weather too was all but perfect.

Marlon Williams & The Yarra Benders have had a huge year including huge number of dates around the country for this special Day On The Green lineup. Despite some initial sound issues, Williams managed to warm a rather subdued (perhaps due to the beating sun) crowd. Joined on stage by his partner in life, Hannah Harding aka Aldous Harding, they played Marlon's best known originals and covers, ending in the formidable version of Portrait Of A Man, originally by Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

Kasey Chambers was absolutely delighted to be playing alongside two of her self-confessed musical idols, Lucinda Williams and Paul Kelly. Harking back to her alt-country heritage, she played a heartfelt set joined by her tight ensemble. Chambers performed songs from her most recent release, Bittersweet, as well as a whole bunch of her older hits, including Not Pretty Enough, which actually sounded like the commercial black sheep among her other songs. On home turf, Kasey connected with an eager to engage crowd, her excitement and guts charming even the slightly more dubious of us.

Unfortunately the crowd weren't as appreciative of the legendary US country queen Lucinda Williams. A little worse for wear, both in appearance and performance, for those of us there to witness a true favourite, Williams' set was a little heartbreaking.

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All was set right again as the Merri Soul Sessions gang hit the stage, with more than enough chops, sass and spunk to soothe thousands of hot, expectant spectators. Vika and Linda Bull got things flowing, with their fierce deliveries and impeccable harmonies. Dan Sultan, the hot-blooded rogue of country, was also on point, exposing a whole lot of heart and vulnerability. Clairy Browne brought the salty sexiness of a true diva, while Paul Kelly and the incredible Kira Puru took things into a slightly darker, more mysterious place. Paul Kelly, the steadfast father of Australian folk music, played at times with a humble subtlety and at others with a hint of guts. Kelly, a true leader and curator, is obviously not afraid to work with people with just as much, if not more, talent than himself.