Sunday, October 22, 2017

Paul Kelly at The Federal Bar, 10-22-17 Concert Review

Paul Kelly performing "Life Is Fine"
What better way is there to spend a Sunday morning and early afternoon than drinking and listening to some excellent music? Gary Calamar hosts the Mimosa Music Series at The Federal Bar in North Hollywood, and today Paul Kelly performed there. I am always excited to see him, and today’s show was with a full band, reminding some people of those earlier days with The Messengers. This was a rockin’, energetic set, focusing mainly on his new album, Life Is Fine, which was released in August. 

The music began at 11:42 a.m., with Great Willow opening the show. They did a good set, playing some songs from their recently released album Find Yourself In Los Angeles, including “Many Things” and “Petaluma,” the latter with a fun pop vibe. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the band features cello, an instrument I love. While the band fits into the general country music realm, their songs also have a bit of folk, a bit of pop. “Last Boyfriend” has a Buddy Holly feel, particularly at the start. They ended their 34-minute set with “Earthquake Weather.”

Paul Kelly took the stage at 12:31 p.m., launching straight into “Rising Moon,” the opening track from Life Is Fine. Paul had a five-piece band backing him, including vocalists Vika Bull and Linda Bull. Without a pause, the band followed “Rising Moon” with “Finally Something Good,” which happens to be the second track on that album. “Something good this way comes,” Paul sings. Indeed. This music makes me feel so damn good. (That line, by the way, is a play on a line from Macbeth.) Paul Kelly played the first four tracks of the new album in order, following “Finally Something Good” with “Firewood And Candles” (featuring cool work on keys) and “My Man’s Got A Cold,” with Vika Bull on lead vocals. “My Man’s Got A Cold” is one of my personal favorites from Life Is Fine, and it was also one of the highlights of the set. It’s an incredibly cool tune, and Vika owns it. Linda Bull added some interesting percussion. She had a plastic bucket of hand percussion instruments, and at certain points she would drop the bucket on the stage to create a sort of jangly thud. I’m pretty sure that was the first time I’d seen someone do that in concert (though my memory is not always to be trusted).

There wasn’t much stage banter between songs, but Paul did introduce “Josephina”: “This is the story of Josephina and the ne’er-do-well who loves her.” “Josephina” is so catchy, and Vika and Linda added some hand claps. Linda Bull got a chance to sing lead on “Don’t Explain,” and then Paul switched to the keyboard for “I Smell Trouble,” while both Vika and Linda took a break. “I Smell Trouble” was kind of an intense jam. Paul performed “Life Is Fine” solo, the only song of the set he played without the band, and the last of the songs from the new album. He played nine of the CD’s twelve tracks.

He followed “Life Is Fine” with a couple of songs that were included on The Merri Soul Sessions  – “Righteous Woman” and “Sweet Guy,” Vika Bull singing lead on the latter. The set then ended with “Look So Fine, Feel So Low.” The encore was a couple of Paul Kelly classics – “Stories Of Me” and “Before Too Long.” The show ended at 1:25 p.m.

Set List
  1. Rising Moon >
  2. Finally Something Good
  3. Firewood And Candles
  4. My Man’s Got A Cold
  5. Josephina
  6. Letter In The Rain
  7. Don’t Explain
  8. I Smell Trouble
  9. Life Is Fine
  10. Righteous Woman
  11. Sweet Guy
  12. Look So Fine, Feel So Low
  1. Stories Of Me
  2. Before Too Long
If you missed this show and you live in or near Los Angeles, you still have a chance to see Paul Kelly today, for he’s playing at The Roxy tonight. I highly recommend checking him out.

Here are a few photos from the show:

beginning "Rising Moon"
"Finally Something Good" 
"Firewood And Candles"
"My Man's Got A Cold"
"Letter In The Rain"
"Letter In The Rain"
"I Smell Trouble"
"I Smell Trouble"
"Life Is Fine"

The Federal Bar is located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood, California.

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