Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts to prevent us from attending Paul Kelly‘s debut in the Capital Region (my second brush with violent weather in a couple of weeks you may recall), we arrived and joined a rather modest crowd in the Linda Auditorium. Undaunted, his nephew Dan Kelly, who would later accompany Paul, began the evenings proceedings. His set was made up of charming, slightly goofy, but smart songs, full of custom sound effects and requests for audience participation. My partner in crime, JR, proclaimed it a success and although I could have done with a bit less cheese, I didn’t argue his point. After a brief intermission, Paul Kelly took the stage, along with Dan on second guitar. He announced that he would play his latest record “Spring and Fall” from start to finish, and then play selections from his back catalog. A brave move for a debut performance, but perhaps knowing the weather outside would likely deter folks from leaving, a smart one. Nevertheless he dove into the song cycle which comprises the record and for the most part it held us captive. Not having listened to the record prior to the performance; worked to my advantage, giving these songs an added freshness, despite some similarity to the arrangements. This was offset by some tremendous accompaniment from Dan Kelly on both acoustic and especially electric guitar. And 11 songs and some 40 minutes later, it was over. And then as our reward for playing his “game”, we got to hear some gems from Paul’s extensive catalog, reaching as far back as to his days with the Messengers. Highlights included “St. Kilda to Kings Cross”, “Midnight Rain”, “Deeper Water”, “Forty Miles to Saturday Night” and “How to Make Gravy”. Despite some mild attempts to hijack the setlist by the audience, Paul kept command and we reaped the benefits. In spades in fact, since he played close to two hours, before heading to the merch table for some commerce and banter. It’s been a great first half of the year for shows at the Linda, let’s hope that trend only continues. The one where I go out to see music during severe thunderstorms, complete with tornado warnings? Not so much….