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Thursday, 19 November 2009

Gomez sent to Coventry!

After an extensive break from the UK, Gomez are finally back home where they belong, not Southport, but the UK!  Tonight is the first date of their somewhat low-key European tour, a tour which sees Gomez take on a collective pioneering approach as they venture into lands unknown and particularly tonight, as they investigate a brave new world.

Yes, tonight sees Gomez sent to Coventry for the very first time in their 13 years together.  They’re playing at the renowned Kasbah (formerly The Coliseum), perhaps the last of the city’s live venues that can actually boast of its opulent history of hosting live music and of the bands to have played there.  
Tonight, the mighty ‘mez enrich The Kasbahs majesty in front of a subdued but surely anticipation-filled audience.  After an impressive and suitably billed support act from Coventry’s own The Treehorns, Gomez take to the stage, after a long day that was accosted with tragic circumstance and a suicide on the tracks.  It happens though, right? 

To quote a pre-show Olly Peacock...”The suicide express to Coventry shouldn’t be missed; I’m off to save my ears” (From the rapture that’s escalating from TT show).  I go on to shake Bens hand as Olly heckles me from behind, fearing I might be armed (as I soon will be) with interview material!  I leave them to hastily gobble up their take-away and to shift from chow time to show time (20:30) in a matter of minutes.  Along with 99% of the people in here tonight, I stand poised and ready for my wait to end, to see Gomez live!

As the rest of the band prepare, Olly takes the roll of showman and engages a maniacal crowd,”You forgotten who we are?  We make music, pure and simple” he adds, before Ben unfolds the show with ‘Little Pieces’, which benefits from a typically charged delivery that holds the attention of a crowd that’s perhaps unsure of these newer Gomez sounds. (I know I should be happy to see the first 8 rows going crazy, I guess I’m just getting impatient to see the whole room bouncing). 

Personal favourite ‘Hamoa Beach’ (originally titled ‘Advice for Potential Divorcees’ before the label refused it) warms the crowd, which now holds most of its arms in the air, clearly thankful for another exemplary execution from Gomez.  Thanks for Frightened Rabbit (FR) follow (who, due to their vans faulty ignition and late arrival, couldn’t play tonight) and, after a considerate yet not to subtle reminder from an audience member, thanks are given to TT too!

‘Love Is Better Than A Warm Trombone’ quickly kick-starts the proceedings once more, and being a familiar old school favourite, the effect is indeed sweet, seeing the crowd finally settle into their devout role.  A tight rendition of ‘Mix’ unfairly seems to undo some of the previously cast Gomez spell, leaving a mainly motionless crowd in its wake. 

All’s well however, as ‘See the World’ stirs the crowd into frenzy, like a celebration that yes, this is happening!  With Olly asking the full room  “Y’all alright...YEAH... time for a big dirty blues song” at the songs close, we’re given something of a comedown, when ‘Charley Patton Songs’ leaves the crowd shuffling around and somewhat baffled, with these sublime but less upbeat sounds all around.  Still, what a ride and yes, before you know it, the crowd are up again!

Forthcoming single ‘If I Ask You Nicely’ (which pleasingly features a cover of ‘Ain’t no Sunshine’ on the flipside, Nov 30th) awakes the rested onlookers, enticing them to sing along with its infectious “Hey La...” chorus.  However, their effort is put to shame with the next interaction, and as a sampler drones in the background, a noticeably distant Ian struggles with a cable before ‘Tijuana Lady’ hits the mark like nothing else before it.  Ben decides to relinquish his singing duties and passes it over to the crowd, who contribute beautifully, before all involved enjoy the laughter which erupts as slowly diminishing lyric knowledge and declining confidence levels call for Ben to take the lead once more. 

The mood is electric as we reach the midpoint of the gig.  Both crowd and staff members are relishing this rollercoaster ride of a set, not to mention the bands much appreciated, easy going and approachable demeanour. 

As Gomez predictably continue to perfect their thing, the head-nod-inducing ‘Other Plans’ follows, which sees Ian confidently carrying the torch.  I can’t help but wonder why he’s not addressed the crowd in his usual charismatic way (Ian’s often found to be rattling on between tracks and explaining any given song background).  The crowd respond enthusiastically, albeit in all the right places, but the continual overall vibe is awesome nonetheless.

‘A New Tide’ bleeds into a sample-rich, short but sweet melody which, when combined, add a couple of tracks that despite being impressive, somehow leave the crowd behind and perhaps something which doesn’t go unnoticed on stage.  When the words “Think it’s time for a really big ballad, would you like that... are you feeling romantic?” hit the crowd, they respond positively before succumbing to the sumptuous sounds of ‘We Haven’t Turned Around’, which is as close to a CD playback as you’re going to get and a harmonic sense of admiration somehow connects each person here tonight.

With hands in sleeves, Ian displays some worrying body language as he takes something of a backseat and expertly takes to the keys on ‘Girlshapedlovedrug’ which sends us all into groove-along spasms, before the final verse features an understated but exuberant breakdown of the track so strong that ‘Bring Your Lovin’ Back Here’ almost goes unnoticed, as it follows on in this tour-de-force Gomez.

The on-stage antics which accompany penultimate track ‘Ruff Stuff’ go some way to reflect the playful sentiments which hang in the air for all to enjoy, here tonight.  Moving on, Ian talks to a boisterous interjecting crowd...   

Well ladies and gentlemen, this is our first ever show in Coventry, it’s taken 12 years!” and as the crowd barely begin to process the information, the unmistakeable intro to ‘Get Myself Arrested’ envelopes all.  Singing, glass raising and mass grooving ensues, as the band have it large right up to the songs close.  As the band leaves the stage, the contrast in noise levels is minimal, thanks to the sheer volume of the crowd.  It’s a wondrous moment that’s slowly infused with the collective and heartfelt chant of “MORE”.

And we get more, as Gomez open an encore with the superb Charlatans-esque ‘Airstream Driver’, an epic blast of energy that’s enhanced by increased and accelerated strobe lights throughout.  There’s a quiet moment as it closes, allowing ‘How We Operate’ to open, with full backing from the crowd.  Tom is loaded with venom as he strikes away at the skins whilst Ben (after getting into the right mindset) gets his freak on and, much to the delight of the crowd, Gomez explore and exploit all its niches nooks and angles to brilliant effect.  It’s now the band leave the stage and a euphoric audience for what will hopefully be a shorter time than 12 years!  God bless Gomez, each and every one of them!  Bassist Paul is here too by the way, he’s just happy to play bass and to be I guess! 

Backstage, I catch up with Gomez, and not wanting to intrude as Olly consoles FR about their misfortune and discusses the sauna like qualities of a condensation covered stage, I beckon Olly for a quick one on one, so as to share my growing concerns about Ian.

I ask “What’s wrong with Ian... he’s not looking very chipper tonight...  He’s usually far more animated”.  Olly replies “Oh no, no, he’s just jetlagged, he only got in last night (from the US) and then his little boy’s been keeping him busy too, so he’s shot basically”.

And so, my fears of any impending band break-up, however unlikely after all these years, are thankfully put to rest.  The seemingly unstoppable Gomez triumph in Coventry, as I’m sure they will on each leg of their November tour listed below.     

15 Northampton New Roadmender
16 Brighton Corn Exchange
17 Southampton University
19 Exeter Lemon Grove
20 London Troxy
24 Sheffield The Plug
25 Whitehaven Civic Hall
27 Edinburgh Queens Hall
28 Dublin Academy

For full Gomez info click here
For more of my photos, click here.