Live Last Night: Gomez


Gomez trusts its audience. The veteran but still cultish British pop band spent much of its Sunday set at the 9:30 club ignoring its sure things, and instead offered up several songs from its sixth CD, "A New Tide," a record that won't even be released in the U.S. until Tuesday.

The trust wasn't misplaced. Fans in the crowded club gave the unfamiliar stuff two thumbs way up.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Gomez formed in Southport, a seaside town not far from Liverpool, in the mid-1990s. The quintet has two really good singers (Ian Ball and Tom Gray) and one brilliant one, Ben Ottewell. As Joe Torre could tell you, managing too much talent can present all sorts of problems. But everybody in the Gomez lineup gets to take their cuts. Ottewell both growled like Tom Waits and lilted like Jeff Buckley while handling lead vocals on the new "Little Pieces." Another fresh cut, "Win Park Slope," found Ball leading the band into Oasis territory. On "Airstream Driver," Ball and Gray's voices combined to sound a lot like Robyn Hitchcock. Fans roared approval for each new tune.

There was just as much enthusiasm for the old nuggets, of course. "Girlshapedlovedrug," sung by Gray, let the band's inner Hermans Hermits come out. "Rhythm and Blues Alibi," a song from 1999, went from really good to tingly great as soon as Ottewell took over lead vocals for the chorus.

To get a tad nitpicky:Even with Ottewell hitting super-high and beautiful notes, Gomez was too-obviously British to pull off "Tijuana Lady," with its occasional Spanish lyrics about chasing a mysterious woman through Mexican border towns. Perhaps they figured since they call themselves Gomez, it's okay to go south of our border.

Gomez didn't play the tune that introduced them to the U.S. audience: a cover of the Beatles' "It's Getting Better" that was used a decade ago in commercials for an electronics firm. But the night ended with "How We Operate," a big rock song that built like "I Am the Walrus" and borrowed a couple lines ("try to see things my way," and "try to see things your way,") that Lennon/McCartney wrote long ago for "We Can Work It Out."


By J. Freedom du Lac |  March 30, 2009; 11:43 AM ET Legends , Live Last Night
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