A few nights ago my wife and I saw Paul Dempsey in concert and I have to say that it was the best gig I have seen in years and probably one of the best that I have ever attended. Yes, it really was that good. For those of you not in the know, Dempsey is the lead singer of Something for Kate’, a band from Australia who I have been a fan of for many years ever since first listening to ‘The Official Fiction’ and enjoying it. It is the opinion of this reviewer that SfK are a band, unlike a long list of others whom I have previously enjoyed, that has only gotten better as the years have passed and they have made more music. ‘Desert Lights’ was a favourite of mine for many years, it is excellent and it was only replaced in my affections by the subsequent album, ‘Leave Your Soul to Science’, though that one took more listens for me to warm to. And since then the latest has been in my regular rotation of albums.
In addition to his work with SfK, Dempsey has also been building himself a solo career. He released a collection of acoustic covers in 2013 with ‘Shotgun Karaoke that was then followed by ‘Everything is True’ in 2014 and standout tracks include ‘Fast Friends’, ‘Theme from Nice Guy’ and ‘Ramona Was a Waitress’. In 2017 came ‘Strange Loop’ (cover above), the superb latest album, and one that has been on hard rotation on both my wife and my mp3 players, as well as on our home stereo. Our favourites from this album include the title track, ‘Morningless’, ‘Hey History (Don’t Go Changing)’ and ‘Volunteers’. When we heard that he would be extending his European tour with a date added in London and one in Dublin we were first in line to grab the tickets.
My wife and I have seen some gigs over the years that were excellent but only a few. Powderfinger, another Aussie rock staple, at the Birmingham Academy was truly something special partly due to the fact that they usually fill stadia back in Oz and we were in the second row and partly down to Bernard Fanning and the band being consummate performers. That gig was incredible and I am hopefully that Fanning will return to the UK at some point during his impressive solo career. Red Sky July are always excellent (my review here: https://tinyurl.com/lpak4vx) and another standout was Ben Folds. Seeing SfK is a dream that I have had for many years now, though I have always been realistic that this probably won’t happen, but Paul Dempsey provided the next best thing by playing an impressive one hour and forty five minute set that spanned all of his solo work and a few well-known SfK songs.
Dempsey played the gig without any backing so it was just him and a guitar on stage. And he absolutely stormed it, giving an impressive performance while visibly being tired from his time on the road. Standout tracks of the night included ‘Strange Loop’ and ‘Morningless’ (at least for me, anyway) and the SfK classics ‘Déjà vu’ and ‘Monsters’. I wasn’t even sure that Dempsey would even play any SfK songs but ‘Déjà vu’ really brought the house down and I am ever more hopeful that he might bring the band back for a European tour in the near future. My wife and I will happily see Dempsey again any chance we get, hopefully soon, and interestingly enough neither of us have wanted to stop listening to his solo albums following the excellent gig. And if SfK do come London I just need them to play ‘Deep Sea Divers’, one of the most achingly beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, then I truly will be happy. Here’s hoping!
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