Album Review: Neil Finn and Paul Kelly – Goin’ Your Way
In the spirit of Paul Kelly’s “A to Z” autobiography I will write my review of his and Neil Finn’s 2 hour long Goin’ Your Way live album in “A to G” format. So, here we go.
A is for Audience. The audience is having a great time at this concert and shares their surprisingly harmonious roar on several songs, most notably on Better Be Home Soon (“and I know I’m riiiiiiight”) and on Paul’s new song For The Ages, where Neil invites the audience to sing the chorus while Paul improvises over the top.
B is Band. The band is a little shaky at times. There is a bad kind of looseness. It feels as though the band has not perhaps had a huge amount of time to learn the 29 songs required of them. This shakiness extends to Paul and Neil as well. Well, mainly Neil, whose piano work is at times a bit off.
C is for Chorus. Paul and Neil frequently sing the choruses together, often harmonising. This is great, but what’s even better is when they switch the verses around so that, for example, Paul is singing the opening verse to one of Neil’s songs, as is the case on Distant Sun, incidentally one of the highlight songs from the album. It is so interesting to hear these icons swapping parts of songs and hearing their different takes on each other’s work.
D is for Don’t Stand So Close To The Window, a strange opening song choice. Not one of Kelly’s best known songs and in my opinion, a bit dull, even with these two legends singing.
E is for Everybody loves a good cover! There are two here, closing the performance. Buddy Holly’s sweet Words Of Love is light and fun. Then comes Henry Mancini’s beautiful Moon River, a lyric from which (“wherever you’re going I’m goin’ your way”) forms the title of this show and album. Yes, I complained about the band earlier, but here everything comes together perfectly. A lovely way to end a show.
F is for Favourites. My favourite tracks on this album are Before Too Long, Only Talking Sense, Deeper Water, Distant Sun and Moon River. Before Too Long is a rollicking ripper of a song. Only Talking Sense features a great guitar riff and equally wonderful lyrics: “there’s a mirror lake before me but I’m frozen when it’s time to jump.” Lyrics really are one of the strongpoints of this album. Both artists do them so very well. Deeper Water is a moving song about growing up. In Distant Sun the pair share the song around beautifully.
G is for Go watch the whole thing on YouTube. The performance is available as part of the Live at Sydney Opera House channel. Paul has such an interesting face that is a real pleasure to watch and you also get to bear witness to the charmingly awkward banter between the pair of them. I found it much more engaging than listening to the album, although I did like the album and enjoyed listening to songs that have become so deeply ingrained in Australian culture. The thrill of familiarity that I got from these songs that I have grown up with made it a worthwhile experience.