Half way through their national tour, it could be forgiven if The Paper Kites were somewhat fraying at the seams. Instead we received a band that looked comfortable to be back in their home town. The Paper Kites successfully selling out their Melbourne Show at 170 Russell Street (previously known as billboards) was no stroke of luck. Melbournians were eager to welcome back their golden children and hear their latest batch of tales. We were not left wanting.
Sam Bentley and his companion wisely chose to weave their successful singles from previous EPs throughout the performance of their latest studio album, ‘twelvefour’. Allowing The Paper Kites the ability to keep the tone somewhat more upbeat and perhaps unintentionally, showcase just how far they have evolved over the past few years.
The unfortunate downside to this choice was that a certain kind of magic the album held was lost. ‘Twelvefour’ is such a personal experience of introspection. A tone that is fragile and easy to compromise. Other variables such as the impersonal crowed or simply just not taking place in the specific time frame that the concept is based around (12am – 4am) could easily have been responsible. It wouldn’t be beyond reason to suggest that perhaps the tour has started to make the performance a fraction more robotic, who can be sure. It was as if the twinkle in the eye was just a little dimmer.
The crowed seemed to mainly contain ‘Southsiders’ which was rather unexpected having envisioned a more eclectic group of fans. During the performance it was disconcerting to see a small abut noticeable section of people, towards the rear, completely disengaged from the artistic piece that encourages internal examination.
These minor critiques a side, Bentley’s charmingly honest approach when interacting with their fans allowed for masterful manipulation that benefited us all. His effortless co-ordination of a three part vocal harmony to be sung by the crowed was not only a success but actually sounded wonderful. Calling on state competitiveness before songs to challenge that stereotype Melbournians ‘don’t play nice’ galvanized fans into willing participation and then rewarded us with a professional performance from every artists involved.
Both technique and intent were behind their display of showmanship. Licks, fills, harmonies and lyrics all landed without any noticeable troubles. A simple but elegant light show that accompanied the gig helped accentuate emphasis of passion and drained monotony when specifics songs called for it.
To hear and understand Christina Lacy’s significance in each song was wonderful. While other components such as lead provided by Dave Powys, drums by Josh Bentley, Sam Bentley’s vocals or Sam Ramussan’s elegant bass refrains. Lacy’s parts, while vitally integral, do not stand out in and of themselves. Despite how well balanced their album recordings are. To see her shift from vocals, keys and guitar live, was an opportunity to appreciate her place in this melting pot of music.
Ending with ‘Too Late’ was a wonderful and necessary touch. To leave the crowed with a song about life decisions that ultimately make themselves as we sit by was both melancholic but inspiring to know that while it may be too late it wasn’t the end.
The Paper Kites, simply put, go from strength to strength. Their performances are touching, their music inspirational. I look forward to seeing where they go next.