Something for Kate have been consistently great for a decade and a half (check the full OGR discography here). This dependability, teamed with a wilful ignorance of trends plus respect shown to their devoted fan base, is more than likely the reason that the bulk of the Fly By Night crowd present on Saturday night looked like this weren’t their first SFK gig.
This longevity might also be the reason that each Something for Kate show should open with a thanking of babysitters for allowing those both on and in front of the stage to venture out in the warm Freo air. Not that we’d be anywhere else with Something for Kate in town for the first time in six years.
Ben Salter came and went with a pleasant set of impassioned acoustic tunery, but given I am entirely unfamiliar with his work I will not debase us both by pretending to have an informed opinion.
Then at 9.45 in the PM Something for Kate stepped to the stage and went to work. The angular and immaculately coiffed Paul Dempsey on lead guitar and vocals, Stephanie Ashworth on bass and Clint Hyndman on drums, with a guy familiar from previous tours that I will call Selleys, because he seemed to fill in the gaps as necessary on either keyboard or guitar.
Opening with Eureka, one of the two tracks I identified as being sure to slip into the live catalogue (Miracle Cure being the other), the front end of the set was heavy with songs from the recently release Leave Your Soul to Science album. The already popular Survival Expert was well received as you would expect, but it was The Fireball at the end of Everything which translated surprisingly well to a live setting, and was the highlight of the ‘Soul’ tracks played on the night.
The 90 odd minute set was smattered with the usual pleasing mix of covers and songs from older albums that ranged from the more well known (Monsters, Deja Vu) and those recognised by the harder core among the fan base – most of whom were probably in the room.
Dempsey flailed his long frame across the stage at various times, though not in a look at me! rock star way akin to Tim Rogers, Steph Ashworth alternated between bobbing her head forward like a blonde arse-kicking Samara from The Ring or aggressively strafing the stage back and forth like a fencer (I originally had like one of those mountain goats about to indulge in a head-butting contest with a rival but thought the analogy was a little too much of a reach for a diminutive female bass player), and Hyndman set to the drums with such ferocity that it was like if he hit them hard enough gold coins might fly out.
With every song a worthy inclusion there are no low points in Something for Kate shows, a broken guitar strap and a flying drumstick were shrugged off as mere workplace hazards but had no impact on the quality of the sounds. The afore-mentioned ‘Fireball’ was the unexpected surprise of the night, and ‘Pinstripe’ is always very welcome, but they were in reality only slightly bigger moments than the twenty-ish other songs played through the night.
The only ‘disappointment’ was alluding to ‘Captain’ and then not playing it. Come on Dad, you promised!
I know that some of the world’s most renowned live acts detest playing their signature tunes over and over for decades, this is why it must be great fun to be in Something for Kate. With 6 albums under their belt they can choose from dozens of songs knowing full well that they will be received with a welcoming cheer. They know if the rest of the band takes five and Paul Dempsey is left solo onstage that there will be no drop off in quality or creativity – as a request from the crowd lead to an impromptu version of Kaplan / Thornhill which while technically difficult (Dempsey forgot how to transition between verses) was no less impassioned or necessary. And they know above all that if they get bored with their own thang they can always just grab a random song and make it their own, and all the more better for it (Ship of Fools and some noice Dempsey falsetto work on the Sam Browne 80s ‘Stop’).
Something for Kate are the Roger Federer, the Larry Bird, the Simon Black of the Australian music scene; no flash, no fireworks, just a consistency of output that despite being head and shoulders above their peers has become merely expected after so long. Here is a case of a review saying ‘the usual’ and not having it represent a single bad thing.
After 15 years out of the spotlight Something for Kate are content with their lot, it seems tours are more like favours to the fanbase now. I know everyone in attendance left content that they had once again seen one of Australia’s best live acts. And it was good.
If tonight’s gig wasn’t a ‘school night’ I might very well have gone again. Besides, babysitters are hard to get at short notice…