Review: Paul McDermott and Gatesy Go Solo

2 years ago
Til Knowles

Songs of beauty, songs of heartbreak, freshly-minted comedy concoctions, old squabbles and spontaneous nonsense.

This is Paul McDermott and Steven Gates unlike you’ve ever seen them before! … Okay that’s not strictly true, you’ve definitely seen McDermott and Gates somewhat like this before if you’re a fan of Doug Anthony All Stars or Tripod. McDermott retains his cocky, front-man attitude and boundless arrogance, and Gates is happy to play the down-trodden, over-ruled back up singer for the sake of the joke. Stage banter aside though, it’s pretty clear that McDermott and Gates have a solid friendship and a great deal of respect for one another as human being as well as performers. This friendship, luckily for the audience, has resulted in a huge number of excellent songs – both funny and ‘serious’. Paul Mcermott and Gatesy Go Solo is an hour and a half of songs, jokes and reflections from two of Australia’s favourite musically talented comedians.

Both artists are in top comedic form. The duo have spent a lifetime on stage apiece, and they are both so comfortable and happy in front of an audience. McDermott and Gates are clearly professionals, but they bring a laid-back air to the reverberating wooden space of the Recital Centre. It’s an utter delight to watch. They’re keenly aware that they’re middle-aged white men, and they milk their status with a range of self-deprecation, faux bravado and sarcastic self-pity. As is to be expected, given the kind of comedy they’ve been making for decades, there’s some jokes about controversial topics, and McDermott challenges anyone who takes offense to come down to the stage and explain themselves. It’s something of a non-issue; while the topics might be controversial, the punch lines aren’t, and the jokes land in reasonably safe spaces.

Musically, McDermott and Gates are stunning. All that musical comedy experience means that the timing is precise, and each melody is deceptively simple. The harmonies are vibrant, and whether they’re backing one another in a punchline or a sincere lyric, McDermott and Gates are unfalteringly complementary. There are a few emotional punches in the show too, particularly in the song that started the whole collaboration, ‘Stone Crows’. It’s a haunting, grief-stricken song that fully conveys the loss of a loved one who died at a young age. Between this emotional honesty and the lighthearted comedy, McDermott and Gatesy demonstrate yet again why they’re so beloved by audiences across the country.

Paul McDermott and Gatesy Go Solo was on as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for one day only! The duo are playing in Wollongong and the Gold Coast next. Check their Facebook page for details. Their music is available as an EP under the band name ‘The Bloody Lovelies’

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