Loma play one of 2018’s best gigs and Getintothis’ Banjo is there to lap it all up.
There’s something about a sunny Friday in Liverpool.
It may be that we don’t usually get many of them, it may be the proximity to payday or it could be that people are full of the joys of life, but Liverpool is packed tonight! Everywhere you look people are gathering, drinking and letting the good times roll. The main pubs and bars are vying for trade and the city is abuzz.
Walking to tonight’s venue, Buyers Club, Getintothis passes various groups of revelers enjoying a hot, sunny Friday. Where we are headed may be a windowless, bare brick club, but we can’t help feeling that tonight’s gig is worth a year’s worth of sunny Fridays; tonight Loma prove how truly special they are.
Those with even a passing interest in Loma will know the story that brought them together, but what could get overlooked amongst this is the sheer quality of the music. The eponymous debut album is a sheer delight, a slow burn of a record whose melodies and textures work their way into your consciousness and stay there. Loma are a band who allow their songs room to breathe, with all the instrumentation coming together beautifully, each giving space to the other.
Live, initial expectations may be that this would be a minimal, laid back affair. The set up reinforces this, as all of the band apart from singer Emily Cross are seated. However, Loma are about to defy all of our expectations.
Before all of this however is support act Adam Torres. Torres is a truly gifted musician and one of the most talented guitarists this writer has seen in a long time. He makes his classical finger picking style look effortless, whereas my fingers ache just watching him.
Singing entirely in falsetto, Torres has a remarkable voice. Closing your eyes when he is playing, it is hard to believe there is only one person on stage. Seeing him in the Buyers Club’s bare loft, it makes us think of what it must have been like stumbling across someone like Paul Simon at an early gig – a truly exceptional talent who, if the world were fair, would be on course to become a famed and loved musician.
One of Torres‘ many talents is apparently the ability to tell jokes and tune up at the same time. Presumably operating on some strange custom tuning, he keep the crowd entertained with a tale of a chicken lying in bed next to an egg, with the egg enjoying a cigarette. The chicken then turned to the egg and said ‘Well I guess that answers that question’
With no fanfare, Loma set up their equipment and start their set. It quickly becomes apparent that they are no ordinary band – there is an effort being made here to be different, this is not going to be a conventional rock gig. The guitar and bass are used sparingly and keyboards weave a counter melody around them. There are spaces in the songs that listeners can fall into and find unusual melodies. Emily Cross plays a type of steel drum to create backing sounds rather than create music as such.
Drummer Dan Duszynski is fascinating to watch. He is a drummer who seems to spend much of his time not drumming, but rather using his instrument to add further textures to the sound. Playing his drums and cymbals with brushes and even with just his fingers fits in perfectly with the underplayed quality of Loma’s songs. I am reminded of the Bunnymen’s Pete de Freitas, who also tried to make his drums less rockist.
Album highlight Black Willow has more muscle than the recorded version, while Dark Oscillations seems more spectral, devoid of some of the studio effects. I Don’t Want Children‘s keyboard motif is much more to the fore when played live and the song has more solidity than the album version. In fact all the album’s songs have grown in a live setting and are not too shy to stand up and flex their muscles.
Watching Loma construct these songs live seems akin to alchemy, the whole sound being so much greater than the sum of its parts. Each member of the band plays a part in this but, as is the case with the best bands, it all comes together to create something more, something special, as they follow the year’s best album with one of the year’s best gigs.
Emily Cross is the only member of the band to have the freedom to roam the stage, and beyond, and she does this to great effect. Sporting a pair of huge red shorts (is it too soon for the culottes revival?), she is the most non-self-conscious performer I think I have ever had the pleasure to witness. When she has chance to move away from the microphone, she runs around the small stage, performing moves that seem to come straight from a school PE lesson. Still with energy to burn, she runs off the stage and through the audience in a blur, not knowing quite what to do with herself and accidentally knocking someone’s pint over.
She also has an interactive whiteboard set up stage right that she uses to draw pictures, which are then available from the band’s merchandise stall.
Cross has a question that silences the audience, when she asks ‘Does anyone know how Liverpool got it’s name? Cos it sounds kinda bad – liver pool’. She tells us she has enjoyed her time in the city and later confides that this has been one of Loma’s favourite shows on the tour.
After the last song, Cross thanks us all and the band walk through the crowd. There are no rock star pretension here, they even reappear shortly afterwards to start taking their own gear apart.
On leaving the venue, the crowds are still out in force in Liverpool, the sunlight still warm on their skins. But I walk through them stunned at what I have just seen.
Tonight, Loma brought the sun to Buyer’s Club.
Images by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody