Wednesday night saw Aussie legend Paul Kelly launch into his first Adelaide set of his 2017 ‘Life is Fine’ tour, joined by a stellar lineup of special guests: folk-rock icon Steve Eearle and alt-indie newcomers Middle Kids.

Middle Kids kicked off the night with ‘Fire In Your Eyes,’ a track off their newly released self-titled debut EP. With a shiny new record deal with EMI Records and a self-confessed fan out of Elton John, the young Sydney band isn’t doing too badly for themselves. Although considered the rookies of the night in comparison, the set was definitely not devoid of personality, light-hearted humour and killer head-banging (props to bassist Tim Fitz for that golden performance). Lefty Hannah Joy rocked her right-handed guitar upside-down (a habit she hasn’t been able to kick), while flaunting her impressive vocals through tracks such as ‘Edge of Town’ and ‘Never Start.’

Steve Earle entered the stage, bringing on goosebumps with his iconic ‘Copperhead Road,’ which immediately got everyone chanting. All the Texan needed was his guitar, his sense of humour and his stage presence to have the whole crowd captivated. Some of the classics were played like ‘Someday’ and ‘Galway Girl,’ which is not to be confused with Ed Sheeran’s 2017 track—as noted by Earle himself. He took the opportunity to play some of his new material, such as ‘The Firebreak Line’ and ‘Lookin’ for a Woman,’ which features good ol’ Willie Nelson, from Earle’s So You Wannabe an Outlaw album. Earle actually took a break from his US tour for his mate Kelly and will have to return after the show in Perth, but he hopes to return to Australia next autumn.

Despite his international reputation, Kelly entered the stage with the utmost appreciation and respect for every single member of his crew that night, even thanking the truck driver for getting them there. He got stuck in straight away with a few tracks from his new album, including ‘Finally Something Good’ and ‘Firewood and Candles.’ Technicolour strobe lights adorned the stage, complementing lead guitarist Dan Kelly’s and Paul’s strikingly colourful suits (Dan’s red, Paul’s blue).

The vibe was heart-warming and nostalgic for most of the crowd when Kelly launched into his collection of classics, notably ‘Before too Long,’ ‘To her Door,’ ‘Dumb Things’ and ‘From Little Things, Big Things Grow.’ You could tell when you looked around that the crowd was closing their eyes and tapping their feet to a simpler time—an era of storytellers, harmonicas, and love that just never ran on time.

The evening began to wrap up when Kelly was joined by Steve Earle and Middle Kids vocalist, Hannah, to perform ‘Handle with Care.’ A true highlight on the night tributing The Traveling Wilburys classic, putting an end to the idea that quality music could ever be lost in time.

Life is Fine is out now.

Saturday 25 November – PERTH, Kings Park & Botanic Garden

Sunday 26 November – PERTH, Kings Park & Botanic Garden

Wednesday 29 November CHRISTCHURCH, Isaac Theatre Royal

Thursday 30 November WELLINGTON, Wellington Opera House

Friday 1 December AUCKLAND, Civil Theatre

Saturday 16 December – MELBOURNE, Sidney Myer Music Bowl

Find more photos of Paul Kelly and Steve Earle here.

Find more photos of Middle Kids here.

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Photos: Matt Pfeil