On stage and off there were fortysomethings with children at home, these days a little heavier than they would like to be, a little greyer than they would like to be.

They are the type who, as Cole sang in Woman in a Bar, now find that when an attractive woman enters the room they are “No longer angry/ No longer young/ No longer driven to distraction/ Not even by Scarlett Johansson”.

It’s a typical Cole line in a typical Cole song: wry and perceptive, melodic but not flamboyant, equal parts Leonard Cohen and Loudon Wainwright III. Even some of his earliest hits, the songs which provided the soundtrack to many a mid-’80s university assignment all-nighter, such as Rattlesnakes, now feel retooled into something more reflective, more complex.

Not everyone felt the kinship, mind you. The morning after, I received an email complaining that Cole’s show had had “too many gloomy songs about middle age and no [early hit] Perfect Skin”.

Well, no, he didn’t play Perfect Skin, though the 90-minute show featured a fair spread of material from his longish career. And I don’t know about too gloomy; many of us laughed as often as we nodded in recognition.

But there was a nervous start, a brain fag which saw him forget the words to the second verse of No More Love Songs (“I think that was the last song in my repertoire I hadn’t f—ed up,” he said drily) and a few flat vocal spots.

But he knew how to satisfy this room. After all, he had us figured.

Shortly before the end Cole smiled and said: “If your babysitter is text-messaging you, it’s nearly finished.”

Publication: Sydney Morning Herald

Publication date: 19/04/07