Unplugged Live: Portrait of An Artist – Paul Dempsey @ Ian Potter Centre, NGV – 31 Aug ’14

It’s not every day that an art gallery is filled with the sound of live music, but that’s exactly what the 10 –part Portrait of an Artist series at the NGV Ian Potter Centre. Part conversation, part unplugged music performed to an intimate audience.

Paul Dempsey @ Ian Potter Centre, NGV

Paul Dempsey @ Ian Potter Centre, NGV

Performing in the second last week, and in tune with the week’s theme of the city was Paul Dempsey – officially welcomed by series curator Jae Laffer of The Panics to a receptive and civil crowd and opening with the aptly chosen Star Crossed Citizens.

While a small selection tunes from the Something for Kate catalogue and Dempsey’s solo work took advantage of acoustics in the creative space, the conversation turned to an investigation of song writing, with almost every theory and hypothesis posed by Laffer jovially dismissed in answers given by Dempsey.

However, the grilling offered an entertaining insight into creative mysteries and searches for perfection in song writing, along with the accompanied sleep deprivation. Although apparent when listening to the creative outcomes, hearing about the influences of the city and the use of abstraction, with forensic, microscopic perspectives in song writing brought another level of intrigue to the material, summated articulately by Laffer as ‘inspired streaming consciousness’. That’s some deep contemplation for a Sunday afternoon!

Musically, the highlight came with the final performance of Bird in a Basement but discussion wise, the best part was dismissing the notion of writer’s block and boiling down the creative process to bloody hard work. Dempsey couldn’t have said it better, “Now I would describe myself as a prolific writer, it’s just that 99% of it’s shit.”

It’s lucky then that the remaining one percent is gold.

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