Live Review: The Paper Kites, Patrick James

26 October 2015 | 4:01 pm | Annelise Ball

"The Paper Kites sure helped every little Melbzy voice that wants to sing let it rip loudly tonight."

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The skanky chandeliers above the 170 Russell stage don't quite match the classy vibe offered by Patrick James. Joined by a band first up, the utterly lovely Covered In Rain delights early, while Kings & Queens sees James on the keys singing this tranquil beauty all alone. All About To Change brings some Americana to the house, while Message evokes plenty of cheers and whistles from attentive punters. With James standing alone behind the mic singing, strumming and looking earnestly sincere throughout the number, one could be forgiven for making the obvious comparison between him and Vance Joy. Finishing the set with California Song, James clearly channels his own joy during the extended jam at the end, facing the band for a decent rock out, then flashing big smiles to the crowd in closing.

The Paper Kites open their sold-out hometown leg of the twelvefour album tour with the poignant beauty Electric Indigo, featuring lead guitarist Dave Powys' most elegant guitar riff. Beloved old-school track A Maker Of My Time evokes ecstatic squeals from the mostly-female crowd, while the broody Bleed Confusion gets plenty of singalong crowd support. Picking up on this vibe, frontman Sam Bentley is determined to prove wrong the critics who tell him, "Melbourne is too cool to sing along." "That is not my Melbourne," says Bentley. "I think in every Melburnian is a little voice who wants to sing." Proceeding to organise the crowd into separate harmony parts for Bloom, Bentley helps the accused Melburnians defy all critics by singing out loud and proud. A request to 'shush' for the next quiet song Neon Crimson is made (provoking loud crowd-wide shushing), allowing all to best hear singer Christina Lacy's ethereal vocal harmonies throughout this luscious piece of folk. Bentley unexpectedly halts Paint mid-performance; there's a girl passed out on crowded dancefloor and she's not getting up. "Is she ok?" he asks. No she isn't, so he calls out for security who then carry her away, prompting the gentleman Bentley to say, "We're all here to take care of each other." A vintage cassette boombox placed on stage brings the '80s back for driving rock number Revelator Eyes, while slow-burning blues track Too Late adds some smoky romance. Last track Featherstone again gets the Melburnians singing crowd-wide harmonies to finish. Beautiful as ever, The Paper Kites sure helped every little Melbzy voice that wants to sing let it rip loudly tonight.