I went to a show you played in Ballarat last night. You've always been a special musician in my life. Darling it hurts, the song you finished with was the first 7" I bought with my own money. The first rock show I saw when I moved Melbourne when I was 17 was you playing the St Kilda festival. The first time (sadly not the last) I smoked pot laced with something nasty was at a benefit you played at the POW. I've seen you play a bunch of other times, bought a bunch of your records and covered a few of your songs in dodgy bands. I even lived around the corner from you in Balaclava for a while. We were on nodding terms or at least I'd like to think so. So Paul as far as fans go I am consistent but not obsessive. I work in your industry, my ears are experienced if a little jaded and I like to kid myself that once in a while I know what I'm talking about. So mate I've got to let you know - you were fucking fantastic last night.
Not fantastic in a hot new thing way. Fantastic in a grown up, sexy, bitter, dry, funny and vulnerable way. My friend you are at the peak of your craft. Your voice has never sounded better. The rhythm section are in the pocket and Dan and Ash are still young enough to mean what they play. But at the guts of it is your writing.
Songs old and new. I love how you can still craft a lyric, construct a story and step inside a character (and sometimes yourself) and drag us with you. Whether its a guy in jail missing the kids, Koori painters, single dads, psycho killers, lonely drunks, hopeless junkie hookers, stuggling couples or any of the other characters that inhabit your work we cry and cheer and ride with them. That is a special talent. Empathy seems to be an increasingly rare quality this century, but you seem to have bucketloads of it. Enough to go round a whole room full of people.
So Paul I walked out of your show a happy guy. I'll probably sit through another 150 shows in the next year. I won't enjoy many of them - I'll be working and honestly I'm not connecting with a lot of whats happening at the moment in JJJ world. But when it's been a tough night, when there hasn't been many payers through the gate or the PAs playing up I'm gonna try to think back to last night when you made me cry and laugh and stamp my feet. And I reckon it'll help.