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Live Review: Jack Colwell And The Owls Goodgod

11 June 2012 | 4:34 pm | Chris Familton

with Nick Cave-styled pelvic thrusts and floor-writhing

GoodGod may not have previously been host to such fragile music as was on display from Packwood. Featuring Bayden Packwood Hine on banjo/vocals and some wonderful violin and cello accompaniment, the trio silenced the small crowd with a handful of songs. Space was the key to their appeal and generous helpings of it were used to accentuate what was played between the silence. You hung on individual banjo plucks and zoomed in on Hine's confident and colourful folk vocal. Bats was a playful lyrical dance with his instrument while Charlotte highlighted Hine's darker material.

Brendan Maclean (also a member of The Owls) gleefully showed off a new orange tracksuit that was decidedly at odds with his music but definitely not his personality. He had a way of delivering a devastating and emotional song and then flicking the switch to a lighthearted story of seeing Dolly Parton in concert. Maclean's music sits in the same vicinity as the baroque pop of Rufus Wainwright and Patrick Watson. His keyboard and ukulele (which he named Murphy Brown) playing was a key part of his set, casting the songs in quite a different light to his denser band sound on record and shifting the focus to his swooning voice and its wonderful melodic turns.

Jack Colwell & The Owls were celebrating the release of their debut album, Picture Window, and though the venue was far from full, the enthusiasm of those present easily filled the room. Colwell is a classically-irtrained musician who now operates in the world of indie chamber pop with his dramatic, ornate and textured songs. Flutes and recorders appear through the set to colour the songs and The Owls handled their dynamics and composition near perfectly. Colwell pushed his vocals hard and though an occasional easing of intensity would have been welcomed, it worked well in amplifying the emotive content of the songs. His quieter moments were reminiscent of Antony & The Johnsons though his voice is a deeper, more masculine instrument. There was certainly a fascinating range to Colwell's set with the fun upbeat singalong of Captains Melody and the brilliantly dark and sordid Banquet complete with Nick Cave-styled pelvic thrusts and floor-writhing. Colwell is still something of a hidden gem on the local scene, though that may well be about to change.