Left – Paul McDermott. Cover – Paul McDermott with David Symes and Evan Manell
Not even a keyboard blowing up part way through a song could dampen the audience's enthusiasm at the 9.30pm show of Paul Sings. In Perth for two shows as part of the Wild West Comedy Festival, Paul McDermott, known to most as a TV presenter and former Doug Anthony All Stars performer, took us through a variety of his original songs.
Many of the pieces have only ever been performed once – on shows such as The Sideshow, Comedy Galas, and Good News Week. Interspersed with funny, mostly rude stories, it was a memorable night, and I came out in awe of the great vocal talent of McDermott.
Walking to centre stage to rapturous applause in his trademark sharp black suit, shirt and tie, McDermott reminded me of a cult leader arriving to address his adoring congregation. I'm sure he will hate me for saying it, but even his movements, including his decisive and powerful hand gestures looked like he was preaching to the masses. If he was, the diehards were there in force and lapping up every minute, although as McDermott stated, we were older. "There are a lot of high-waisted underpants in tonight's late show," he laughed.
His rich, pure voice rang through The Astor during songs such as Guilty of Nothing, Transcend and Happiness. His stories weren't quite so pure, with one particularly long story involving Marina Prior, Paul Stanley (KISS), backstage dressing rooms and dry humping on an album cover...
I was surprised to hear that McDermott doesn't think of himself as a musician. "I'm just a singer" he told us. Although he writes the lyrics to all his songs, he collaborates with other "real musicians" including Paul Mac, Cameron Bruce, Mick Moriety, Paul Livingston (aka Flaco), and Stu Hunter. Hunter, on keyboards, directed the exceptional four piece band supporting McDermott during the show.
The hecklers started to annoy me pretty fast, and we were quick to find out they annoyed McDermott, who, after one particular heckle, yelled back "I don't think you understand the concept of a show! I sing, you listen, it's not a f****** conversation!" As he said it with his trademark cheeky grin and a laugh, and the rest of his conversation was peppered with the f word, it was hard to tell how annoyed he actually was.
DAAS fans (most of the audience I expect) were treated to a one off, gatecrashing performance by Tim Ferguson (also in Perth for the Wild West Comedy Festival). Looking frail (he was diagnosed with MS in 1995) but cheerful, Ferguson and McDermott sang My Girl – the first song they busked in Canberra. The harmonies between the two were pitch-perfect even if the words weren't, and it was an enjoyable moment.
McDermott dedicated one of his more serious songs (Transcended) to friend and colleague Aaron Beaucaire, who recently died. Beaucaire is best known for his special effects and pyrotechnics on DAAS Kapital, The Late Show and Good News Week amongst others.
Paul Sings! is a great show. Admittedly, if you don't know McDermott's background and haven't watched his shows, the stories might not mean much. But noone can question his incredible voice, which is powerful, moving, and emotive.
Paul McDermott in
Venue: The Astor | 659 Beaufort St, Mount Lawley WA
Date: Fri 31 Aug 2012
Times: 7pm and 9.30pm
Venue: The Tivoli Brisbane
Date: Sun Sep 9
Times: 3pm & 6pm
Venue: CivicTheatre Newcastle
Date: Fri Sep 14
Venue: Canberra Theatre Canberra
Date: Sun 16 Sep