You have to give Alexander Gow some credit. Not only is he one of this country’s most prodigious songwriting prospects, he is also one of the hardest working. Earlier this year he stepped out of the familiar confines of Oh Mercy to embark on a nationwide acoustic tour with the effortless Dan Sultan. Alternating between new and old material, it was considered one of the better shows of 2011 and gave rise to the notion that Gow could be planting the seeds to a breakaway solo career (a la Bernie Fanning style).

Thankfully – for casual and hardcore fans alike – he has remained faithful to his band and tonight’s show at Melbourne’s Hi-Fi demonstrated how important a figure he is to Oh Mercy’s longevity and success.

Easing into the support slot is the sultry Owl Eyes (a.k.a. Brooke Addamo). Following the lead of Lisa Mitchell and Matt Corby, Addamo is another example of an ex-Australian Idol contestant whose talent far exceeds her reality TV roots. Her easy going demeanor and gentle but telling vocals impresses a building crowd. Highlights include closing single ‘Raiders’ and a cover of Foster The People’s ‘Pumped Up Kicks’.

As promised, Alex Gow and co. hit the stage with a plethora of new material. One of the fears with this approach is that such tracks won’t stand up against an established back catalogue. Luckily, Gow has been fine tuning these songs for the better part of the year and as a result most are well received. The finest of the latest crop is ‘Lady Eucalyptus’, a number he debuted during the aforementioned Dan Sultan tour.

As expected, ‘Let Me Go’, ‘Keith St’ and ‘Stay Please Stay’ receive an enthusiastic response and demonstrate that the band is in reasonable form after a slight hiatus. Despite this, it is Gow’s unaccompanied cover of a Triffids classic that proves the night’s highpoint. Given that Gow was on stage with the influential post-punk group during the weekend’s Queenscliff music festival, such a performance provided the ultimate pre-cursor.

One rather noteworthy drawback is Gow’s rapport with the audience, especially early in the set. This is somewhat surprising as his self-deprecating humour and boyish whims are usually just as entertaining as the tracks themselves. For tonight, however, the banter falls a little flat.

Although far from a flawless performance, Oh Mercy did enough to satisfy casual observers with their most accessible material whilst providing dedicated followers with a sizable tease of their upcoming LP.

– Paul Bonadio