GOMEZ LIVE: 20 YEARS ON

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Gomez ‘Bring It On 20th Anniversary Tour’ – O2 Academy Bristol – 02.05.18

Everyone loves a comeback and it seems that every week another comeback tour or anniversary show is announced. This year former Mercury prize winners Gomez revealed they were to be playing their debut album Bring It On in full to celebrate 20 years since its release.

I headed to Bristol, where I last got to see the band play on their last tour seven years ago. Not much had changed over the years; the fan base is still made up of 40 year olds + bearded musos with tour t-shirts ranging from John Mayall to Mogwai. Most of Gomez look like they have been cryogenically frozen, only guitar/singer Ben Ottewell had made a transformation with his East London bearded barista look. Gomez performed Bring It On as per track order which, although it’s authentic as a tribute, did tend to create a top heavy set list as most albums tend to push the singles to the first half of a record, and the sold out O2 Academy wasn’t sufficiently warmed up to really enjoy fan favourite Whippin’ Picadilly this early on into the set. Though, set list a-side, the five-piece genuinely look like they still enjoy playing together and they aren’t just on a cynical grab the money and run tour.

The songs sound even better than on the record, with little extra jams and riffs added to keep the older tracks interesting. Ottewell’s voice is still as boomingly brilliant as always and Tijuana Lady was a real highlight, with the focus on the singer as the band mates sat on stage and allowed their frontman to have his moment. Multi-instrumentalist/singer Tom Gray still plays the role of hype-man elect, bigging up each member’s performance and always interacting with the audience to sing-a-long (as if they needed any encouragement). Get Myself Arrested had the entire arena moving and the band just stepped back from their mics to allow us to enjoy some group karaoke. Ian Ball still magically looks around 21, and surely has a portrait of a balding man in his attic. Bassist Paul Blackburn kept himself in the shadows and still needs his band members to encourage him to sing back-up and step into the lime-li,ght and Olly Peacock is his usual drum maestro at the back.

The latter part of the set began to peter out around Bubblegum Years and needed the first non Bring It On track, Shot Shot, to reengage the energy into the room. From thereon in Gomez treated us with a mini best of set, including choice cuts from Liquid Skin and a moving rendition of We Haven’t Turned Around, and a rare outing of Gray’s Silence. This all seemed to end so soon and one would have expected there to be at least time for a few more singles from the later albums, but the band left stage to deliver two encores. One to play Revolution Kind with tour support John Smith on guitar, which made the subdued lady behind me cry with hysterics, then they left stage once again only to return for a ‘turbo’ version of Whippin’ Piccadilly (yes again), though this time the o2 were fully warmed up enough to have the night’s first mosh (probably the worlds most polite mosh to be exact). The quintet were left to stand arm in arm on stage covered in sweat and smiles and soak in the applause. This is a band who shouldn’t be tasked with just touring a classic album every few years. Hopefully this tour will reunite them to return to the studio and write another classic that they can look back in 10 or 20 years as fondly as we do with Bring It On.

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