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Gomez: Live at Oxford O2 Academy

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It’s been 20 years since indie-rockers Gomez released their first album, Bring It On. It placed the record amongst the select group of Mercury Prize-winning debuts, beating the 1998 favourites, Massive Attack and The Verve. While it’s never been a chart-topper kind of an LP, Bring It On has shifted an impressive 500,000 copies in its lifespan.

So naturally, Gomez have embarked on a tour to celebrate this milestone. They really have come a long way from the teenage friends who got together to form this band. In fact, they’re fairly divided across the Atlantic these days. And while we’ve not had a new Gomez album since 2011, their appeal is easily enduring enough to draw a big crowd to Oxford for tonight’s show.

And to get said crowd warmed up is the job of Russo. Fronted by Cailin Russo, daughter of Unwritten Law’s Scott Russo, the punk spirit clearly runs in the family as Cailin jumps around the stage with great abandon. And this is no side project; the entire band is sizzling with energy. Guitarist, Tyler McCarthy, in particular appears to be trying to break his guitar, such is the passion in his huge strums. The Oxford audience is treated to songs from House With A Pool, which was released this year. Bad Things is a sensational closer for this support set.

Once everyone makes sure they have a two-pinter plastic cup of lager in their hands, it’s time for Gomez to take the stage, and what a welcome they receive. The stage is looking mighty fine, especially the Thomas Edison style lighting. As is to be expected, Bring It On is the mainstay of the set; Get Miles announces itself with its extended, distorted intro, and Whippin’ Picaddily is aired fairly early in the set, and every single word of the song is sang back in earnest.

The eerie Tijuana Lady gives Ben Ottewell one of several opportunities to showcase his gravelly vocals, not to mention his beastly guitar ability. And then there’s the rhodes piano ballad, Bubble Gum Years, that gets arms swaying. Of course, with such a weighty back catalogue, this was never going to be a one-album evening. Blue Moon Rising sees Gomez go all bossa-nova on us, and Silence, a song which is anything but silent, is one of the most enjoyably rocky moments of the evening.

They might not be spring chickens, but that doesn’t stop the band from playing a lengthy two-hour set. And none of the assembled Gomez fans are complaining. Happy birthday to Bring It On, the album that started it all for these Merseyside gents.

Review by Adam Protz