How do we create meaning from experience but by comparing comparing polar opposites? To see light we need darkness, to know we are feeling joyful we need to have felt sadness, and to appreciate calmness we should have engaged in a whirlwind hive of activity. Such is the way we can understand why the likes of Nick Batterham was chosen to support Paul Capsis at his recent Melbourne shows. Singer/songwriter Batterham encapsulates Melbourne’s refined reputation, just as Capsis depicts Sydney’s brashness, and this ‘Rock ‘n Roll gothic romp’ is all the better for it. Batterham’s songs are fuelled by understated
emotion and melodic tenderness. Listen to ‘Thirty-four‘, and try not to be moved.
Capsis, on the other hand, moves us with front. He is the confidence to Batterham’s quietness. What a talent Paul Capsis is. Within the confines of one season you might catch him in a cabaret, on the box in an award-winning movie or like us, singing his heart out in one of Melbourne’s best venues. Who could fail to find intrigue in seeing and hearing Capsis performing some of his most loved songs? Beginning with the Skyhooks ‘Ego is not a dirty word’ then moving into a synthesis of the Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’ and The Doors ‘People are strange’, we immediately know that while the songs might be as comfortable as our old flannelette pyjamas, the execution of them would leave us gasping.
You can be guaranteed of entertaining banter from Capsis who was channeling his thespian side but not, (we were assured) a Toorak poodle. His black furry hat worn to warn off a ‘disgustingly’ cold Melbourne night was flicked aside as he threw himself into Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’, a swamp rock version of ‘Proud Mary’ and Janis Joplin’s well known version of ‘Piece of my heart’. By this time many punters were out of their seats and dancing but Capsis was winding up. As with all of the best gigs, the main event seemed to be over all too soon. With the Fitzroy Youth (ahem) Orchestra, Capsis made a brief exit, only to be called back by enthusiastic stamping and clapping.
More banter ensued with a jest about his vest being discovered in the Coles supermarket car park. Paul Capsis had saved the best for last with a three song encore. Who could better Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect day’, Nina Simone’s ‘Feelin’ good’ and Patti Smith’s ‘Pissing in a river’? He left us all wanting more and hoping that soon he will again pay attention to the thing he loves most; performing as a singer in front of a talented and sympathetic rock n’ roll band.