Gomez, John Smith: O2 Academy, Liverpool

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Gomez, O2 Academy 2018

Gomez, O2 Academy 2018

Gomez whip up a sold-out crowd for a landmark celebration, Getintothis’ Howard Doupé  heads out to relive his youth.

Ok, well here’s the deal. Sit back, relax, are you sitting comfortably? This is gonna take a while.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy at the end of the Formby bypass, there once heralded a band called Gomez, who ruled these coastal shores. In amongst industry frenzy and nods from elder statesmen, they looked out to the West and found themselves signed after less gigs than the number of breadsticks you get in Dairylea Dunkers.

The musical landscape at the time certainly didn’t hinder their rapid ascension. Britpop had imploded, something new was needed to fill the void- but familiar enough not to step too far from the path known to guitar obsessed indie-kids.

Fast forward twenty years and we’re right back celebrating where we started off. Yes, numerous albums have been delivered since (go check out Split the Difference) and several solo albums, yet as with so, so many bands it’s the light of the debut that burns long into the night.

So tonight sees the hometown show celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bring It On. It’s been a long wait for this celebration, the shows a decade ago only reached as near as Manchester. There’s no surprise that tonight has sold out.

Obviously an occasion this special demands support of the highest calibre- John Smith needs no introduction.

Here to deliver his soothing tunes to what is an expected noisy crowd. As the set progresses the undeniable quality is realised and applause grows with each song. Proclaiming ‘Gomez are my favourite band’ and that he saw them himself in this very venue, a support slot is ‘unbelievable’. Kind words from this talented songsmith.

Drawing from his back catalogue, Smith certainly seemed to enjoy the change of gig from the ‘pin drop’ silences he’s accustomed to. The crowd jeered and bantered with is stories, at one point Smith openly apologising for being only a ‘CO-OP support act’ rather than ‘Sainsbury’s and definitely not Waitrose’– a nod to his wider reaching successes.

It’s been a scorcher of a day and the Bank Holiday mood hasn’t dipped at all. After an appreciative reception, it feels like only brief moments before Gomez kick off.

Bang, we’re in to Get Miles. It’s morphed, aged well like a thick, innocuous spirit. The once young determined groove is now road-beaten and desert dwelling- a ferocious guitar solo screams after the first chorus, thunderous drums echo a falling sky and the fear. This is not going to be a pretty trip down memory lane, rather a treacherous journey down a vulture-lined canyon.

Racing through the debut album at breath taking speed, on request a singalong ensues during Make No Sound. First rapturous applause of the night right there.

Tijuana Lady sounds as wondrous as ever, full of imagery. One of the crowd’s favourites tonight, it ends in a crescendo of blues-soaked guitar. Missed a trick not having a spinning birthday mirrorball with dazzling lights for Tijuana Lady? Maybe it’s the refusal of Gomez to not go down the route of Elbow that doubly ensures this level of love, yet severed the commercial ladder long ago.

With a surprise guest appearance, John Smith sheepishly joins in proceedings offering slide guitar on to Free To Run, turning the song mid-way into a blend of folk that the trademark Gomez sound rarely ventures into.

As the final track, Rie’s Wagon, finishes we’re served up a selection of ‘greatest hits’, including plenty from their sophomore release. The mood mellows as the band breathe a little more freely. Blue Moon Rising a firm live favourite airing their wider influences, sounding Floyd-esque in parts.

Don’t think they were going to go without giving the home crowd that little something extra. As the crowd start filing out after the encore, the band return for another. Second time around for a hoedown version of Whippin’ Piccadilly.

In a world where everything feels media-filtered for the snapchat generation, this is music for the love of it. Not obsessed with style or popularity, Gomez’s sound is a communal one. Relax, enjoy crack open a drink with friends, they’ll soundtrack the whole night until the sunrise hours.

See you in another 20 years?

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