The Paper Kites @ Enmore Theatre
It’s fairly easy for a band to hide behind deafening guitar solos, flashy dancers, or a maze of strobes, but to command the attention of a few hundred people with simple, straightforward and ultimately beautiful music is something to be admired. Australian quintet The Paper Kites fall into the latter category as they gently purr rather than roar, with their show last night at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre showcasing the strength behind folk music.
The folk-rock group established a name for themselves back in 2010 when the ever so lovely acoustic stylings of Bloom graced our ears. Armed with jangly tunes and love songs a-plenty, The Paper Kites saw successes such as supporting the likes of City and Colour, Passenger and Boy & Bear along with peaking in the top ten ARIA charts, which helped them grow to the iconic band they are today. Flash forward to their latest album twelvefour – a collection of songs written exclusively between 12am to 4am – and the success only continues to grow. Their sound may have matured, however, the defining feature that anchors all of the band’s music still exists, lying in the strength and purpose behind each song.
From the bittersweet harmonies of ‘Arms’ to the purity of ‘Tenenbaum’, it’s hard to pick just one moment that captures the essence of The Paper Kites. The show began with pin-drop silence as the five members huddled at the front of the stage and performed with only one microphone and two guitars. This group radiates effortlessness and confidence, initially admitting to the crowd they weren’t going to talk much throughout the show to let the music speak for them.
The next hour was full of captivating songs drifting between heartache and blossoming love, served out in the most intimate way imaginable. A series of four window panels were projected behind the group throughout the show, depicting different voyeuristic scenarios of what happens between midnight and 4am – a unique nod to twelvefour. Tin Lover saw the venue in complete darkness, which only amplified the raw talent The Paper Kites have to be able to command a room with delicate melodies but strong, controlled vocals. Towards the end, we saw a full band performance of Electric Indigo, which saw Sam Bentley’s vocals tear open and fill the room.
These are all testaments to the brave, and incredibly risky, choices the quintet made for the first show of their Midnight Australian tour – highlighting how they’ve grown up but haven’t sold out. Every creative choice was made to magnify the music, never to distract from it.
After a surprisingly deafening cheer from the previously solemn audience, The Paper Kites concluded with an encore of crowd favourite ‘Bloom’ and returned to the roots of where all this magic began. Six years later, and their music still speaks as deeply to fans as it always has.