Live Review: Paul Dempsey + Olympia – The Gov, Adelaide (25.08.16)

On a Thursday night, The Gov fills out comfortably to await the return of Paul Dempsey to his beloved Kingdom. The air is chilly, but the vibe on the inside of the popular venue remains warm and inviting. It’s been a little while since the Australian favourite has been to Adelaide in this capacity and with his new album Strange Loop having embraced favourably, you know the sort of show you’re walking into. Expect to be charmed. Expect to be wooed. Expect to be entertained.

Olympia supported Dempsey on his Shotgun Karaoke tour a few years ago but admittedly, I hadn’t been able to see her perform since. Managing to catch the last half of her set this time round however, I was incredibly impressed. She brings a stunning pop vocal to the live front and backed by a talented band, Olympia’s music is really taken to another level. Her Self Talk album has stood out as one of my favourites of the year so far and to see Olympia now in a position to further explore a solid and captivating live show presence purely bolstered by the fact she has more material behind her, was great to see. With BIGSOUND coming up, I know she’s definitely going to be one to watch.

As soon as Dempsey takes to the stage, with Olympia and band back in tow as his band, it does feel like there hasn’t been much time in between visits at all. “Strange Loop” and “Idiot Oracle” are given their first performances in Adelaide, setting a solid bar for the rest of the show. Between this latest collection of songs and Dempsey’s acclaimed solo debut Everything Is True, a cleverly assembled set list has been created.

To his credit, there is no point during the show where you find yourself thinking, ‘Man, a Something For Kate song would go down well right now,’ – the thought has never crossed my mind at least, over the handful of times I’ve seen this man perform anyway. Even when Dempsey does stray from his own material, he offers up covers of Pixies and Television instead; in “Dig For Fire” and “Elevation”, the crowd gets to see how well Dempsey and his band play together and the level of ease in which this dynamic truly unfolds. They’ve been playing together for some time now but even so, there’s a freshness to the way they interact on stage; each musician is obviously talented on their own but together, they lock in and deliver brilliantly.

“Out The Airlock”, “Morningless”, “Ramona Was a Waitress” and “Lifetime Supply” still stand out as set highlights for me, while the two absolute best moments of the show came near the beginning and at the end. “Blindspot”, early in the show, was heartachingly gorgeous while “Nobody’s Trying to Tell Me Something”, slotted in during the encore, was a perfect way to ramp things up for a final time.

It can be easy to say that a Paul Dempsey show is one you can attend and comfortably assume the type of show you’re going to witness. His voice is as rich as ever, while he still displays a ridiculous talent for casting a blanket of charm over sold out audiences without needing to exert any type of outrageous stage presence. The crowd was putty in his hand and we were happy to be; what we expected was another evocative, heart-on-sleeve type of show and what we were met with was all this and more, namely thanks to the release of Strange Loop some months ago.

Image: John Goodridge.