Vic Theatre – Chicago, IL
March 4, 2010
Having never seen or heard Gomez before last Thursday night, I had no idea what was in store for me. With no expectations and an open mind, I attended the opening night of Gomez’s current tour in the States. Quite honestly, it felt pretty cool to be seeing Gomez live in concert for the first time while they were kicking off their tour in my hometown of Chicago. The fivesome hailing from Southport, England are promoting their latest album A New Tide, which was released almost a year ago on March 31, 2009. Three lead singers told me that Gomez is not your typical English indie rock band. There is nothing ordinary about a band whose members play multiple instruments in addition to having three out of five of the guys sharing lead vocal duties. Gomez earned my respect the second they walked out on stage and picked up their respective instruments. My admiration for Gomez and the group’s songs only grew as each song finished and a new one began. I am now a fan for life and will be at every Gomez show in Chicago from here on out.
More photos of Gomez after the jump…
Set List / Chicago
If I Ask You Nicely
See The World
Meet Me In The City
78 Stone Wobble
Pick Up The Pieces
Rhythm And Blues Alibi
Bring Your Lovin’ Back Here
Ping One Down
Win Park Slope
Devil Will Ride
How We Operate
Just to get it out of the way, I need to come clean with two random observations that I noticed. First off, singer/guitarist Ben Ottewell’s voice at times reminded me of former Barenaked Ladies lead singer Steven Page’s voice. Secondly, singer/guitarist/keyboardist Tom Gray physically appeared (to me, that is) to be a cross between Harry Potter, Elijah Wood, and Paul McCartney. Feel free to completely disagree with me on both points. Moments before launching into “Sweet Virginia,” Gray admitted to the crowd that the band was about to perform a song that they “haven’t played live in five years before tonight.” As Gray made the final adjustments to the placement of his guitar, he made the comment that it was the “perfect time for a waltz.” Indeed, “Sweet Virginia” is in fact, a waltz. “Are you ready Chicago?” asked singer/guitarist Ian Ball. And then Gomez began playing Sweet V as if they had played the song every night for the past five years.
Next up was “Pick Up The Pieces,” which had Gray stepping up to the edge of the stage and initiating the first of three clap alongs. “Bring Your Lovin’ Back Here” was the first composition included in Gomez’s set that I labeled as my favorite. If I had never gone to this Gomez show, one of the most catchiest tunes ever written would have never gotten the chance to reach my ears and become my new musical obsession. “Bring Your Lovin’ Back Here” was released back in October of 2000 on the Gomez record Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline. It took ten years for that particular song to be introduced to me. Songs affect my life in a way I can’t even begin to describe. It’s hard to explain and for some people to understand, but I feel as if my life would not be the same without BYLBH in it. That piece of music just makes every day living so much better to experience and get through.
Next up was “Ruff Stuff,” which became my second favorite song of the night. Not to say that I relate to the song, which contains the lyrics “Darling, I’ve given up fags and drugs now baby. Darling, I’ve had enough of the ruff stuff baby.” Can’t say I’ve ever taken any drugs (excluding medicine). A brief episode of smoking cigarettes lasted less than three months back in my early angst-ridden rebellious college years. But just like the addiction brought on from the use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, the lyrics in “Ruff Stuff” paired with the melody the words are written to served as my new addiction. The way I look at it, is that it’s better to be addicted to songs and music than any of that body-harming ruff stuff. Wouldn’t you agree?
“Ping One Down” brought about the second of three clap alongs lead by Tom Gray. This time around, the clapping had a syncopated rhythm to it and the song later included a jam session breakdown showing off Ben Ottewell’s ridiculous electric guitar playing chops. Man, that guy can play! Note to those who don’t enjoy listening to or watching jam bands: “Ping One Down” may turn you off of Gomez’s music. Give their other songs a chance before you decide not to see Gomez live in concert again just because they got a little too “jammy” for your tastes. “I guess it’s time to play a song we’ve never played before. We wrote it a long time ago,” Gray said to introduce the next song “Step Inside.” Of course, the simple fact that Gomez had only played “Step Inside” during the recording of the song years ago had no effect on how well the guys performed it live last week in Chicago. To my aurally trained ears, Gomez performed “Step Inside” as if they had been playing it live every night of every tour since the beginning of the band’s career in the 1990s.
“Win Park Slope” gave Gray the opportunity to rock the shaker (as best as one can rock out on the shaker) while Ian Ball’s lead vocals were mixed with plenty of reverb and delay. “Girlshapedlovedrug” had Gray leading the audience in the third and final clap along of the evening. “Devil Will Ride” featured Gray on the vocoder, with him switching back and forth between singing into his regular microphone and his vocoder mic. Near the end of the song Gray brought the two microphones together and sang into both. In sum, Tom Gray is totally awesome. The kid plays every type of acoustic and electric guitar in existence, as well as the shaker, tambourine, keyboard, synthesizer, and piano. Oh yeah, and he can sing. Basically, I want to be him. Gomez started their encore with “Airstream Driver,” the group’s big hit from A New Tide and finished their set off with “How We Operate.” The sold out crowd was left with the final words “try to see things my way…i’ll try to see things your way.” A perfect way for humans to operate, indeed.
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