Last night was the night that we Gov goers reopened our hearts for Melbourne wordsmith and musician, Paul Dempsey, so that he may correct all our flaws and failings since we last sought his treatment of sure folk-rock therapy. Dempsey is more notably the front man for mid 90s alt-rock band, Something for Kate, but more recently, has been highly regarded and recognised for his solo work.

In 2009, following what became a six year hiatus for Something for Kate, Dempsey’s solo career came into existence when debut album Everything Is True was released; Dempsey had been writing solo material for nearly two years at this point, in the wake of suffering from writer’s block for a number of Something for Kate’s albums and living with depression.

Supported by dream-pop singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, Olympia, on what I feel might be the first time I’ve seen that many punters turn up specifically for the support artist at The Gov. Olympia is not of this world, she claims to be from Melbourne, but, Olympia, you are from the moon. The crowd adores her. And her band went back to back last night, as they played as the backing band for Dempsey on this tour.

Dempsey has always been able to stir emotion within his audiences – he wills it, and last night was no different.  An engaged crowd swayed and swooned for Dempsey, as he painlessly delivered his impassioned lyrics. He opened the set with the title track, ‘Strange Loop’, from his new album of the same name, and the crowd had already weakened at the knees. By the time we got around to ‘Have You Ever Fallen Out Of Love’ and ‘Fast Friends’, both off Dempsey’s first album, the entire crowd had paired off and are now hopelessly in love with one another. You know when people yell things out at gigs like “I love you, Paul”? This was the first time I have genuinely believed these people, most of whom were men.

Dempsey has a measured flair for the stage, his words are thrown like darts into your chest, but he is unassuming; he allows his audience to digest his work in various ways, hence the sea of straight men proclaiming their love for him and the groups of newly-in-love couples, that have undoubtedly married each other in the short time since the show came down last night.

They seamlessly tied two, elite choice cover versions into their set, Television’s ‘Elevation’ and Pixies ‘Dig for Fire’, so much so, that, even though I consider myself a big fan of both of these bands, I didn’t immediately recognise that these songs did not belong to Dempsey. That is just how charming this guy is – enough to make a grown woman forget about Television and Pixies (which I don’t normally like to do).

Dempsey finished the set powerfully with a mix of crowd favourites off both his albums, ‘Bats’, ‘The True Sea’ and ‘Theme From Nice Guy’ and told us that it would not be long before he would come back to “The Kingdom” (his fond reference to Adelaide) to play for us again.

Dempsey played a three song encore, finishing the night with ‘Bird In A Basement’ from his debut album, following which, this emotionally unworthy reviewer left the venue, walked through a pool of a sold-out venue’s melted hearts, and wondered if I ever knew what love was before I started  listening to Paul Dempsey.

By Lauren McAleer