Gossling @ The Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne (05/05/2012)

I walked into a packed Thornbury Theatre to find an audience silenced by the heartfelt vocals of Hayden Calnin. Calnin has been performing in Melbourne for some time, though more so recently with his one-man show. His voice is really something special. Deep and soulful, yet at times fragile, it’s a voice that always resonates with me. He finished his set on the single Summer, in which he layers vocals and intricate sounds with a loop pedal. Sometimes chanting, other times belting, the layering is what really makes his sound unique. Calnin is definitely an artist to watch; I see really big things for this talented musician and I can’t wait to hear his City EP when it’s released in the coming months. Second support was Sydney’s Winter People whose rocky folk pulsated through the theatre. Their sound was dramatic and loud, and really seemed to change the theatre’s energy. Their songs were full of loud blaring guitars, distortion and strings, which were contrasted with beautiful vocal harmonies. I think their energy really drives them, and it was for this reason that my eyes stayed glued to the stage. I am not sure, however, whether their songs grabbed me enough. Lyrically, I felt like I wanted to hear more; something was missing for me. The audience seemed to become slightly impatient also, waiting for the main act, Melbourne’s chanteuse Gossling.

This was to be their final show for the Intentional Living EP tour, and you could see straight away the band had been on the road for sometime; they were tight from their very first note. Gossling, aka Helen Croome, looked stunning, and radiated with an energy that I had never seen from her – she really owned the stage, and seemed completely comfortable in her own skin. She performed the first couple of songs on piano; facing the audience, she gazed around the room, singing and smiling. The first song, War, was heartfelt and powerful, in parts making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Recently, her voice has been described as child-like, and compared to Julia Stone or Emiliana Torrini, but I actually hear a gorgeous rich voice, and when she hits her falsetto notes, it’s a voice that really moves in its maturity. The Thornbury Theatre was the perfect setting for Gossling: intimate and picturesque. Croome joked and played around with the audience, which was a great way to break the mood, from dramatic and deep to lighter and entertaining.

What was most noticeable was just how comfortable Croome had become with performing; she was really born to perform. Other standout tracks were Ancient Love and the haunting Days Are Over. The band were all smiles, also. With Pete Marin on drums, Josh Jones on bass and Dan Conway on guitar, they were a band that had been with Croome throughout the span of her three EPs, and you could really tell. As the band left the stage to leave Croome on her own, she grabbed a guitar and did a cover of an old song she described as one she had always loved when she was growing up, it was Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games, all I can say about this is I was absolutely blown away by Croome’s take on this track. I too love Isaak’s song, but I have to say her voice really gave the song a new spin; you really believed that she was falling in love with someone that she shouldn’t.

When the band made their way back to the stage, they performed more tracks off the Intentional Living EP. Songs like Heart Killer, Wild Love and Rose revealed the country influence that has been creeping into Croome’s sound. All of these tracks were very alluring, and were a different spin from the previous EPs. Lyrically they seemed to follow Isaak’s themes; a love that can cause pain, an unrequited love. Croome states that these songs are mostly written through someone else’s eyes, but what really impresses me is how believable she makes it. She really feels it. When the band performed previous single I Was Young, some of the audience decided to get up for a dance, moving their bodies to the blues-influenced country sound. When Gossling arrived on stage after their encore, Croome admitted that she had abandoned the chosen final song, and only just recently came back to it after it was added to TV show American Horror Story. War is my favourite Gossling song, moody and cinematic, giving great insight into Gossling’s undertones and subtleties. When the set finished I was still hungry for more, and I think that’s what really draws me in to Croome’s sound, it’s what she gives, and what she doesn’t give away. You want to know more. I look forward to hearing Croome’s debut album; she is an extremely talented songwriter who clearly is only just at the beginning of a very successful path.