“We are the Merri Souls and we bring the rain,” Paul Kelly launches into a guitar driven soul number ‘Smells like Rain’ being sung by five outstanding singers as he settled in and led his band watching in awe of the talent on show.
The Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre (TRECC) was at near capacity and after a day full of country music and an unexpected storm that blew in after lunch the sheer power of the soul filled voices whipped energy into the crowd. This was a Paul Kelly show that we weren’t expecting.
The Merri Souls Sessions show intertwined the newly released album with old classics that now had the added layer of some of the best backing vocals in Australia if not the world. Vika and Linda Bull provided choreographed backing vocals and lead vocals on many songs, Vika’s version of Paul’s old track Sweet Guys was chilling and stood hairs on end.
Clairy Brown provided the sexiness that a soul session requires, and she did it in spades, her gritty vocals and sensual dance moves in “Keep On Coming Back For More” weren’t wasted on the crowd.
Dan Sultan took his time warming up to a crescendo of pain filled vocals when it came time for him to lead the troupe.
Kira Puru was last to be introduced to us and it seemed they saved the best til last as she led us through a brooding and bluesy number “I Don’t Know What I’d Do”. When she sang her last note the young Novocastrian almost was caught by the enormity of the moment and seemed to regain composure after Paul walked over to her and spoke to her, like a proud father showing unwavering approval of her performance.
The most powerful aspect of the performance was the unbelievable talent that we were treated to, and the respect that all the musicians seemed to have for each other. Paul Kelly was visibly blown away with the performances of the singers that he had brought together. And being on stage to sing backing vocals for Paul Kelly as he led classic songs like; “How to Make Gravy” and “Dumb Things”, the Merri Souls were aptly named. How could you not be stoked?