Jack Colwell & The Owls at Goodgod Small Club

There are two surefire ways of getting a good review. The first is to hand your reviewer, upon arrival at the venue, a personalised, signed hand-drawn picture of a unicorn. The second is for your gig to be really bloody excellent. Jack Colwell had both of these bases covered at Goodgod on Thursday night.

Having been classically-trained at Sydney’s prestigious Conservatorium of Music, composer turned alternative pop-star Colwell launched his debut album on a horrible, cold, rainy night that signposted the start of the Australian winter. Despite the bitter conditions though, a healthy turnout witnessed Colwell and his band of talented Owls (not actual owls, unfortunately) deliver songs from this new record, Picture Window.

A fascinating frontman, Colwell dissects being flamboyant and gothic and is often a confrontational figure. If you can imagine Patrick Wolf having a fight with Nick Cave (go on, it’s awesome), then you’re in the right territory. Plus, this cat realllly knows his way around a keyboard. In a local live scene where, often, sloppy musicianship is all too readily accepted, it is refreshing to witness somebody who can play so well. His piano is like an extension of himself.

The show was equally intimate, powerful and intense and was tied together with the singer’s distinctive vocal and his dark, “chamber folk” melodies. Whether dazzling on the piano or crawling through the audience bashing the shit out of a tambourine, Colwell was a mesmerising presence throughout and is unquestionably somebody worth keeping a very close eye on.

Words and photo by Bobby Townsend. Keep up to date with Jack Colwell on Facebook.