It’s hard to believe that it’s been 374 days since Something for Kate were last able to take to the stage to do what it is they do best. But of course, if these last few have taught us anything it’s that time makes fools of us all.
Indeed, it was in July of 2021 that Something for Kate had the hubris to announce a national tour in support of the 20th anniversary of their third album. A double-header tour of sorts, this trek was set to lay tribute to both Echolalia and their latest album, 2020’s The Modern Medieval, which had its tour privileges lost within the great stage exodus of 2020 and 2021.
Of course, even this tour was not without its troubles. Just weeks after it was announced, rising COVID restrictions saw it necessary to postpone the tour in order to maintain public safety. Dempsey himself seemed somewhat worried such an inevitability would occur when he spoke to Rolling Stone Australia about the tour last year.
In fact, even these last few weeks saw a few alterations to the schedule, with gigs in Perth and Adelaide also postponed due to varying reasons. As such, it was with great excitement that this long-awaited tour finally be granted the safe passage to actually go ahead and take place as planned.
So it was that on on Tuesday evening, legions of devoted fans found themselves pouring into the gorgeous confines of Melbourne’s Forum Theatre for a hometown show for the iconic Something for Kate. But of course, this wasn’t set to be any standard show from the band.
No, if anything it felt like something of a callback to their 20th anniversary tour from 2014. No openers (“We’d like to thank Something for Kate for having us”, Dempsey would later quip), two sets, and an intermission were on the bill for the evening, with the group set to play the great Echolalia in full, along with a run of classics and recent hits.
As showtime rolled around, it became clear just how starved for live music many fans in attendance were. For many, this was their first show since the pandemic began, for others, it was a much-needed bright spot in what has been a devastating (and depressing) few years for the live music scene. But whichever side of the fence you were on, what better way to bring it all back than by with one of the country’s most beloved and respected bands playing one of the greatest Aussie albums of all-time?
As the lights dimmed and the band made their way to the stage, it didn’t take long for the comforting opening notes of “Stunt Show” to ring out and herald the start of the coming hour. Immediately we were all reminded of why it is we fell in love with Echolalia across the last 20 years – stellar singles sat alongside tracks that deserved to be hits, and the impeccable musicianship of the Melbourne trio (expanded to a quintet thanks to the addition of Olivia Bartley and Adrian Stoyles) was on full display.
Dempsey’s mesmerising vocals and acclaimed guitarwork were complemented by the resounding baselines of Stephanie Ashworth, while drummer Clint Hyndman felt like a force all to himself; his powerful drumming seeing him perform with a level of intensity most artists could only dream of.
With Dempsey himself noting that the seated setup of the Forum gave it more of a “moonlight cinema” vibe, the set didn’t veer from its usual intensity. Classic tracks like “Monsters”, “Say Something”, “You Only Hide”, or the fitting “Twenty Years” were as equally memorable as oft-overlooked gems such as “Seasick”, “Feeding the Birds and Hoping for Something in Return”, or “Manmade Horse”, which has remained absent for setlists almost as long as the album has been around.
As the raucous ending of “White” closed out the first set (with Dempsey promising a “mixed bag” was still to come for the rest of the night), it crystallised just how important Something for Kate and their iconic third album truly are. It might be somewhat clichéd to note that and album like this means so much to so many, but with so much joy and positivity in the air after the opening set, it was indeed an undeniable fact that Something for Kate had proved before our very eyes.
Following the brief intermission which the band used as an opportunity to rotate their wardrobe, it was business as usual for Something for Kate, albeit with a focus on more recent material.
Bursting out of the gates with singles like “Waste Our Breath” and “Situation Room”, Dempsey was upbeat as he noted that despite the 18 months since the release of The Modern Medieval, the group are only now taking it on the road.
Of course, such is the brilliance of Something for Kate that even a second set of more modern material could effortlessly sit alongside one of their most celebrated records.
Under-appreciated cuts like “Letter to The Editor” and “The Fireball at The End of Everything” preceded more beloved tracks such as “Down the Garden Path”, or even the crown-jewel of their latest record, “Supercomputer”.
Eschewing the traditional encore break, Something for Kate instead powered through, belting out a cover of former tourmate David Bowie’s “‘Heroes’” before closing things out with the early days and a rendition of “Captain (Million Miles an Hour)”.
Above all though, this long-awaited tour folk was the meeting of two distinct eras of Something for Kate. As the classic 2001 era mixed with everything that has come since, an undeniable showcase of consistent quality showed that even as their get close to 30 years in the game, they’re still as strong as ever, and even their ‘best’ material holds up against their newest.
I’ll forever be a proponent of the notion that every self-respecting fan of Australian music needs to see Something for Kate at least once in their life, but after witnessing this tour, it’s clear that if ever you wanted to see the band firing on all cylinders, performing at their best, and playing one of their finest releases in full, it’s now.
Something for Kate @ The Forum, Melbourne 08/03/21 Setlist
‘Jerry, Stand Up’
‘You Only Hide’
‘Feeding the Birds and Hoping for Something in Return’
‘Waste Our Breath’
‘Come Back Before I Come Back To My Senses’
‘All the Great Minds’
‘The Fireball at the End of Everything’
‘Letter to the Editor’
‘Down the Garden Path’
‘I Will Defeat You’
‘”Heroes”‘ (David Bowie cover)
‘Captain (Million Miles an Hour)’
Something for Kate’s Echolalia x The Modern Medieval Australian Tour
Wednesday, March 9th (Sold Out)
The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday, March 12th
Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday, March 13th
Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Wednesday, March 23rd (Sold Out)
The Forum, Melbourne, VIC Thursday, March 24th (Sold Out)
The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
Friday, April 1st
Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Friday, April 8th
Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Rescheduled Perth date TBA
Tickets on sale now via Frontier Touring