Review: The Song Co. presents Close Up: Paul Capsis in Dry My Tears at The Neilson

Review by Nola Bartolo


Paul Capsis Close Up in Dry My Tears is really something special to experience. I went into this performance a little unawares of what an incredible treat I was in for. I am embarrassed to admit that I was until Saturday night, not exposed to Paul’s legendary talent. Where have I been all these years? I was probably under the very lounge that Paul was sitting on when Francis Greep (Associate Artistic Director of the Song Co.) called Paul to lure him out of isolation and back onto the stage where he clearly belongs and is most comfortable. And thank goodness he made that call and that Paul answered.


The Neilson at Pier 2/3 is a beautiful and new space with remarkable acoustics, housed only with a grand piano, a table and stool. It felt sacred - the space. My guest even whispering to me that it reminded him of a Church he once went to as a kid. The lighting was subtle, and the humble stage was set.


Paul left microphones and costumes behind in his first ever solo acoustic performance. A gritty musical journey beginning in the streets of 1930’s Berlin with ‘Willkommen, Alabama Song and Mack the Knife’ Influences of Marianne Faithful, Jimmy Scott and Nina Simone all absolutely broke my heart and I was crying during his moving rendition of ‘Beautiful Dreamer and Little Girl Blue’ He continued to hold the sadness with Elton John’s ‘Sorry Seems to be the hardest word’ and Billy Joel’s ‘And so it goes’ He ramped it up with a finish that had me and the audience laughing with some jazz and ragtime in ‘Worrisome heart and You’ve got to see mama ev’ry night’


It was Paul Capsis as Paul Capsis. Raw, vulnerable and honest as he took us on what seemed to be a personal journey of his life through song. No microphone, no backup band, singers or dancers. No characters to hide behind, no makeup, no costumes nothing but Paul, Francis, a piano and Paul’s dazzling energy, voice and personality. And personality he has plenty of. He was funny, eccentric at times, quiet, hauntingly beautiful and honest in his presence and performance. His black velvet suit, glittering gold shirt and top hat sure suited the repertoire. The suit was red but he ripped it on the previous night I would imagine through his excited performance according to Paul himself.

Honestly the only negative I have is that it was too short. Paul sang for an hour, and he gave it his all. It was so bloody good, and I was so engaged that it honestly felt like 20 minutes, not even. I wanted more, so did the audience as we banged our feet on the floor and called for more! Encore, Encore! We won out and were treated to another song. I now understand why Baz Luhrmann refers to Paul as an Australian ‘living legend’ and has been quoted as saying ‘In all the world there is no one like Paul Capsis’ because there isn’t.

Luckily this show is on again at The Waterloo Studios Saturday 30 and Sunday 31st July. Do not miss this intimate window into the heart and soul of an Australian institution that is Paul Capsis. You will not regret it.


Image Credit: Warren Lee