Review by Jenny Valentish
Photos by Josh Groom
Jack Colwell has the uncanny knack of bringing his agonies and ecstasies bubbling to the surface, through whispers, growls, screams and a good degree of thrashing around at the piano stool. For the uninitiated, it can be alarming. You might think there’s an exorcism taking place until the moment he locks eyes with you from the stage.
For his sold-out Opera House Studio performance, Colwell reworked his songs for piano, strings, double bass and electric guitar. The show was a testament to his reluctance to settle into any mould. Consider also his latest EP, When the World Explodes, which features “remakes” of his songs from electronic innovators such as HEALTH, Fennesz and local Marcus Whale (who played a set of his own before Jack’s).
Reviews depict Colwell in many hats – indie songwriter, queer role model, classical protégé, in-demand collaborator – and he wore all and none at the Opera House. In contrast to the string quartet’s formal wear, he was dressed in sleeveless tee, jeans and sneakers, the effect being – quite charmingly – that he’d just sauntered on stage to rip the grand piano a new arsehole.
That he did, effortlessly shifting through baleful ballads, some frenetic ragtime and indie melodrama. Colwell encored with his 2015 single ‘Don’t Cry Those Tears’, which earned him a standing ovation. As an artist – whoever or whatever artist that may be – he delivers in absolutes. As an audience, we rose to the occasion.