Live Review: The Paper Kites @ The Tivoli

15 June 2024 | 8:44 am | Liv Dunford

Are we expected to hear 'Tenenbaum' and 'I Don’t Want To Go That Way' back to back and still be functioning humans?

The Paper Kites

The Paper Kites (Credit: Nick McKinlay)

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The shadows of a winter’s night found solace against sparse patches of skin that flashed in the darkness. A hand outstretched, an ankle propped against the root of a tree, the icy wind relentless in its quest for unsuspecting flesh. In other words, it was rather cold.

And so, it was up to Brisbane’s own Hannah Cameron to stoke the fire of musical hypnosis and make everyone forget they’d just spent the last hour in line wishing they had, in fact, bought the stupid North Face puffer (yes, it does make you look like an emperor penguin if you were wondering). Playing a collection of tracks from her 2023 album Holding Pattern, Cameron, with the aid of ethereal harmonies from Merinda Dias-Jayasinha and Georgie Darvidis, turned the world from an igloo into an idyll space with cosy, stripped-back melodies.

The Paper Kites found their way onto the ornate rugs sprawled soft and lush across the stage, and perhaps there should’ve been a ‘welcome home’ sign plastered somewhere underneath the amber lights because that’s exactly what this was. The acoustic lull of Between The Houses enveloped the weary and broken-hearted into the warmth of the music and away from the night. Memories crept back into the forefront of the heart, ones you didn’t even remember you had: out of the darkness and into the light. It was coming home.  

Frontman Sam Bentley smiled at us, surveying the room from his stool. “We hope we play some songs you want to hear.”

Bloom!” Someone called out from an area suspiciously close to the sound desk.

“You’re welcome to call out requests; we probably won’t play them,” He carried on merrily as if they hadn’t just requested their most popular record. “We just want you to feel involved. The truth is…we have a setlist. We will not deviate.”

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Bentley explained the story behind the creation of their newest album, At The Roadhouse, released in September of 2023.

“There was an old building on the side of a road in Campbells Creek, and we turned it into a bar we called ‘The Roadhouse.’ We would play there every Friday and Saturday through the winter of 2022, and we didn’t tell anyone we were playing. We just opened it to the community.” During this period, both the Roadhouse album and the Roadhouse band were formed, and this tour allowed us an all too brief glimpse into this quiet town of theirs, a world all their own.

“I like to check in every few songs to see if everyone’s feeling okay because the truth is that we have a lot of sad people that come to our shows. They’re hard to see, but you can sometimes just hear them sobbing very quietly.” In the midst of the laughter, a smug grin appeared on Bentley’s face.

“We have a lot of couples that come to our shows as well. They’re easy to see because they’re all vertically spooning each other, and they think they’re safe from the sadness because they’re in love, but unfortunately, this is the kind of show where a lot of couples leave wondering if they’re with the right person.” Everyone laughed harder, eyes wandering to the awkward couples who stood a little straighter as if to say, ‘oh he couldn’t possibly be talking about us.’  

“This next song is for the sad folks and those doubting couples.” The lights softened, and the first notes of Nothing More Than That filtered quietly through the speakers. It is a song that, although it isn’t musically complex, is beautifully simple in the way one might describe a pearl. It isn’t grandiose with a plethora of soaring instruments but rather a gentle breath of raw honesty in the form of a duet between Bentley and Christina Lacy. If you won’t take it from me, at least take it from Sean Penn: Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.     

“You’ll notice we’re sitting for this section of the set. The whole show isn’t like this; this is what we call the depressing part of the set.” At least they’re aware of their own impact. Are we expected to hear Tenenbaum and I Don’t Want To Go That Way back to back and still be functioning humans after that absolutely diabolical setlist choice? Mix that with Matt Dixon on the pedal steel, and you’ve got yourself a mesmerising cocktail of tears.    

“When we come back from the break, we’re really going to blow your minds. We had a crowd surfer in Salt Lake City. That’s the level we’re getting to. So, if your mum’s here tonight, get her up!” If by “blow your minds,” Bentley was referring to the ease with which guitarists Dave Powys and Chris Panousakis (better known as Timberwolf) delivered two of the tastiest solos you’d ever hear or the sonic backbone that drummer Josh Bentley and bassist Sam Rasmussen provided in every single number, then he was nothing short of correct.

The band circled around a lone microphone at the front of the stage. “If you know the words to this next song, you’re welcome to sing along.”

Revelator Eyes!”

Willow Tree March!”

Everyone saw fit to hazard a guess of their own.

“If you don’t know the words, then please don’t sing along because you’ll ruin it,” Bentley added. Of course, everyone knew the lyrics to Bloom. It’s garnered over half a billion streams.

There was only one option for the final song of the night. Sure, the Kites' impressive discography spans over a decade, so one might assume any old song would do. In most cases, you see, any old song would do. However, in 2015, they happened to release their album Twelvefour, which brought Electric Indigo to life as the first track. I’d wager life as we know it hasn’t been the same since that moment.

The lights, of course, burned a bright, electric indigo, and despite the deep blue that saturated the room, winter could not have felt farther away. After all, the hottest flames turn blue. It’s almost as if they wrote a song about that and put it as the second track on their new album or something.