REVIEW: Paul Kelly, with support from Eleanor McEvoy, The Brook, Southampton

The agony and the ecstasy.... the superb Eleanor McEvoy performing on your doorstep, but only as the support.

But she took the opportunity with both hands to show exactly why she’s in a league of her own as a singer-songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist who writes lyrics with wit and heart and delivers them with passion.

A couple of her songs were about “lust”, she confessed. “Well, I travel a lot”, she explained. But in truth, there was fire in all the half dozen she played, not least the little teaser from the forthcoming new album.

Across her short set, she displayed a verve and a vigour headliner Paul Kelly didn’t manage in four times the number of songs - but then again, I am prepared to admit to a huge pro-Eleanor bias. With her chat, her personality, the sharpness and the directness of her lyrics, as well as their beauty, she’s a class act - whereas Paul Kelly, an Aussie Bob Dylan, left you simply wondering whether he was trying to sound like Bob Dylan or it just happens naturally.

Either way, it was Eleanor who offered the originality - coupled with the frustrating feeling that the night was the wrong way round.

Phil Hewitt