Playing together since 1996, Gomez have acquired quite a dedicated following across the globe. On Monday 25 June the Irish sect of their groupies, comprised of mainly more mature individuals, packed out the Academy in order to experience the sing-along sessions that Gomez are known for. By around nine the band surfaced on stage quietly and unassumingly before launching into Revolutionary Kind from their second album ‘Liquid Skin’. The trippy country song, with its fade out vocals and percussion loops, was a good warm-up for a relaxed yet upbeat audience jam.
Playing for over an hour and a half, Gomez jump between five of their albums, with their first album ‘Bring It On’ garnering more time than the others. Intriguingly, the set list has not been assembled exclusively by the band as they issue a request sheet before each gig online. Of course most bands take certain song requests, but not many are as dedicated to crowd-pleasing as this group, who are willing to forego many of their newer releases in preference of the old favourites.
Considering the precision of their playing and the character in both Ian Ball and Ben Ottewell’s vocals in particular, it is not difficult to see why Gomez have endured over a decade and a half on the music circuit. By interchanging their roles in the band-with three singers and guitarists- they attempt to keep their sound fresh. Similarly their mix of grunge, country, electronic, blues and indie-pop is defiant of set genre parameters. Watching the constant changing of instruments and positions taking place on stage really enforces this, and yet listening to the music itself a noticeable pattern can be detected. While fixed genre labels are disregarded, the band’s style does fluctuate between Americana and Britpop. Though this is certainly a strange mix, it is not as fluid and mutable as some critics suggest. It is either distinctly folksy with tinges of other styles permeating the song, or it is nineties Britpop with some electro synthesisers added in.
The band’s hyper-awareness of their style works most successfully with songs such as Love Is Better Than A Warm Trombone, Options, Sweet Virginia, and the popular anthems Get Myself Arrested and Whippin’ Picadilly. In the case of Love Is Better…. and Sweet Virginia the notes are impassionedly deconstructed with emphasis on protracted vocals and psychedelic guitar riffs while the other three offer perky beats with good hooks. However, where the band really falls is in its too often lazy lyric-writing, as songs such as Song In My Heart and Tiawana Lady present a cringe worthy set of clichés such as ‘You are the angel/Not singing in the choir/ You rise above [...] You’re the song in my heart’ (Song In My Heart). Nonetheless, the skilled playing and honed voices outweigh many of the negatives.
If there was any doubt as to whether Gomez really feed off their crowd’s energy, it is quickly negated by their numerous encores. While there is something disappointing in the feigned connection the lyrics try to provide in some of their songs, the husky rasp of Ottewell’s voice alongside Ball’s softer drawl is mesmerising. Each member is acutely in sync with each other throughout the performance, resulting in a very satisfied crowd.