Paul Kelly at the Crocodile in Seattle
Last night was dark, and wetter than wet. The streets were empty in Seattle, as was the Lava Lounge at 8:30. The Lava Lounge is never empty at 8:30; it’s the sort of comfortable dive that lures people away from their homes, even on the rainiest of Wednesdays.
This all had me convinced that Paul Kelly’s show at the Crocodile would attract a lackluster crowd. This all was wrong. The Croc was packed.
I’ve been among Kelly’s most vocal local boosters for the past decade. When I have a dinner guest and they’ve never heard of the man some call Australia’s Bob Dylan, I insert a compact disc into my Crosley and let the music do the convincing.
I’ve read Kelly’s riveting autobiography, How to Make Gravy. The guy’s Lived, with a capital L. He’s way past the point of superficiality. His anti-ageist masterwork, “You’re 39, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine,” is proof enough of this.
Backed by a full band at the Croc, the dapper Kelly drew heavily from his latest album, Life Is Fine. The title is to be taken literally. With whatever sway he has over US audiences, Kelly is constantly exposing audiences to sensational foreign talents like the Bull sisters, Vika and Linda, who add considerable effervescence to his live presentation.
Kelly’s songs will run you through the psychological wringer. With “Winter Coat,” he’ll drop you to the ocean floor like you’ve got cement shoes on, before rising from the sand to deliver the full emotional spectrum on “Deeper Water.”
Everything’s a bit heavier since Tom Petty’s death. Kelly, god willing, won’t be leaving us anytime soon, but to cherish him like never before is the proper reaction to his rangy oeuvre at this point.