wed 16/10/2019

Gomez, Koko | reviews, news & interviews

Gomez, Koko

Gomez, Koko

The boys from Southport rock out like it's 1998, but is it time to move on?

Gomez: still up to spinning the world around?

Some say that since Gomez beat Pulp to win 1998’s Mercury award, their progress has been a little disappointing. After two or three albums their infectious frazzled blues became replaced by anodyne AOR, until eventually all their wild innocence had gone. Maybe it was too much too early, or maybe because half of them migrated to the States. Either way, their last two offerings have felt like they're simply pandering to safe suburban tastes. Last night’s concert, however, was less about last year’s Whatever’s on Your Mind than the band's 15th anniversary. And, if Gomez have become increasingly beige on record, live they’ve always rocked out.

Not that last night they really needed to do much more than turn up and plug in. The crowd had already decided how much fun they were going to have. Yet, despite the air of fanaticism, Koko didn’t look like a fan convention. The crowd were a diverse bunch a hip, youngish things, seemingly as keen to dance as to rock. The set, however, was chosen by members of the website. Or, as Tom Gray put it, “about half of the set". The band, he said, “had filled in the gaps". And what that meant was an hour and three quarters of gorgeous nostalgia punctuated by disappointments from the new album.

Gomez are still making fine records. They’re just not making them together

They kicked off with 2003’s "Revolutionary Kind". The band, who all looked about 15 when they started out, now looked like healthy twenty-somethings. Singer Ben Ottewell, in particular, has over the years morphed from looking like someone who spends most of his time playing World of Warcraft to closely resembling Metallica’s James Hetfield. And his gravel voice still astonishes, combining the best qualities of Ray LaMontagne and Mark Lanegan. It dominated the night, with Ian Ball’s lighter voice providing balance. Even though Gomez nominally distinguishes itself by its three lead singers, Tom Gray only gave a couple of lead vocals.

The classics from Bring It On and Liquid Skin have never sounded better. They were both just as the record and yet somehow thicker and more alive. Typically, there was no particular effort at stagecraft, just the aura of a Southern Rock jam session circa 1972. The band played most of the early hits, ending, naturally, with "Whipping Piccadilly." The space rock of "Get Miles" and the dirty, nerdy, urban swamp-blues of "Get Myself Arrested" nearly brought the house down, with drummer Olly Peacock, in particular, demonstrating he's anyone's equal. What really surprised, however, were the number of mid-period nuggets from 2006’s How We Operate. Even the tape-backed EP track, "Machismo", from 2009 showed glimpses of the anarchic, joyful experimentation of yore.

All of which made it even more disappointing that you could tell immediately a song from last year’s Whatever’s on Your Mind by the sudden rush for a fag on the roof terrace. As the evening ended, I heard a girl suggest to her boyfriend that it was odd that Gomez could still be so good live and yet to have seemed to have lost most of their mojo on record. But, actually, Gomez are still making fine records. They’re just not making them together. Ottewell’s Shapes and Shadows was one of last year’s unsung gems. Ian Ball’s Who Goes There and Operation Aloha were both delightful eccentricities. It’s not their songwriting that has failed, but rather their ability to collectively capture the excitement of being young. As much of a shame as it would be to miss concerts like last nights’, maybe it really is time for them to branch out alone?

Watch (a younger) Gomez perform "Get Miles"

You could tell immediately a song from last year’s album by the sudden rush for a fag on the roof terrace

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Comments

Wow... Yes, they are great live, but I think that their albums are, though different than their first album, still amazingly great. I've got the newest album playing in my car and have had it playing regularly. And I have been a fan of theirs for almost all of their 15 years together. I have never, ever been disappointed by this band, and anyone who is, should turn off the Justin Bieber and listen to some good music for a while to connect with the qualities that make good music.

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