Saturday, 28 April 2018


Brighton Dome, Tues 24th April

Roughly two and a half years after I last saw Gomez, they’re back. This time playing their first album, 1998’s ’Bring it On’. An album whose release is further proof that no-one should ever listen to me. If I’d been told beforehand that a bunch of white, middle class kids from Southport were going to make rootsy Americana I’d definitely have told them to put a halt to it. And when it came out lyrics about “Tijuana Ladies” meeting “mariachi desperadoes” slipped into trips to Manchester to play football, like this was a disguise which wouldn’t stay on.

Which is perhaps a widening problem. Too much music so self-consciously apes a style, it sounds like it’s being played through those white gloves they use on the TV to hold priceless relics. Which doesn’t keep that music alive, just undead. And that approach extended from folk and roots to all music’s branches, like some inexorable disease.

And yet in Gomez’s case the result is such a great album I could put aside my normal dislike of gigs which run through records in track order. Perhaps, with three songwriters in the band, it never sounds particularly restrictive – it’s not an album which sounds like one album. As Alexis Petridis said in the Guardian: “The music flits about, as if trying to cram the band members’ entire record collections into a single album: grinding guitar noise, primitive drum machines, psych-y vocal interludes, blues riffs, shambling funk rhythms.”

And perhaps genuinely timeless music simply reprises easily. The band sing themselves at one point “Why do you keep running around like that/ Sit back 'cause this is gonna take a while? There's no shame in going out of style”.

’Bring it On’ went on to win the Mercury prize, and seems to be one of those albums which cemented itself into the popular consciousness. Which may mean, at least in terms of public interest, the band peaked at the very start. Not only are they playing a bigger venue than last time, this and most subsequent gigs of the tour are sold out. And in fact when I go home and check my CDs, the three Gomez albums I possess are the first three. I guess that’s proof of the pudding.

Not a recent gig but the album’s opener…

The Hope + Ruin, Brighton, Sat 21st April

Frontman of the Adverts, and later the Explorers, punk stalwart TV Smith has in recent years taken to playing solo gigs armed only with an acoustic guitar. 

Which would be fine, there’s no need to treat punk as a fixed style. Nor does everything played acoustically need to sound like Nick Drake. However, he’s still writing strident, anthemic punk songs as if he just happened to forget the band and amplification, and decided to go ahead anyway. It’s true the change has come about through necessity, he’s openly said he simply wasn’t earning enough to feed a whole band. But then necessity is often the mother of invention. By, you know, necessity.

All of which is compounded by his continuing adherence to punk dress, and mildly bizarre insistence on continuing to strike rock guitar poses. Truth be told, when I saw him some years ago with the (briefly reunited) Adverts it worked a whole lot better.

From York…

Coming soon! An anniversary...

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