ROCK ROYALTY: Paul Kelly. Contributed

Paul Kelly sets crowd straight before playing new album

WHEN you're the undisputed king of Australian music, crowds know better than to start arguments over your set list. But Paul Kelly wasn't taking any chances at Rockhampton's Pilbeam Theatre.

"I have a new album," he told the packed Friday night audience.

Then defiantly, "And I'm playing it all the way through."

Not too much talking, he explained, and he'd let us know when he hit half-way, "to turn the record over."

"And then," he said, "We'll have some fun." It was a promise good enough for me.

The new album is Spring and Fall, and fans sat captivated as song after song told the story of love found, screwed up, and lost again.

It was tight and bright with his new-ish band: gorgeous drummer Bree Van Reyk, stunning double-bassist Zoe Hauptmann, J Walker of Machine Translations on keys, and his nephew Dan Kelly rocking out lead guitar.

The album flew, and then "enough with the love stuff" - it was straight into many favourites, like From Little Things Big Things Grow and To Her Door.

The 58-year-old returned to his rocking '80s days with Dumb Things, while the final Come and Meet Me in the Middle of the Air saw a reverent hush descend.

"That's it, thanks Rockhampton," he said. And the crowd knew better than to argue.