Gomez, Cosmo Thundercat, MANE @ HQ Complex, Adelaide 27/3/2018

Asking people to support local music is almost a cliché that can at times unfortunately turn people away but in the case of this show, it is warranted. The bands tonight are both regulars on the pub scene and it is a quite a different experience and a deserving opportunity for them to be able to perform on a larger stage that suited them. Cosmo Thundercat started the proceedings and played songs from both of their EPs including Warning Bell and Never Let Me Go during an enjoyable set. MANE, fronted by Paige Renee Court, played a set of Fiona Apple-esque ruminations ending with Chasing Butterflies that was contrasted by the music that was to follow. Her guitarist Louis Donnarumma’s own adept ensemble is another well worth seeing at their own shows.

After the supports, there’s a snag from the BBQ on the balcony before the Gomez line up remaining unchanged for twenty years takes to the HQ stage to commemorate their debut album. Ben Ottewell, front and centre and Ian Ball on the left of the audience, are both on vocals and guitars, with Olly Peacock behind on drums. Paul Blackburn is on bass to the rear left and Tom Gray is on vocals, keyboards, guitar and bass on the right, occasionally exchanging roles several times, switching stage sides and corresponding instruments throughout the set.

The usual spoiler alert of sighting the set list was waived in knowing this was a song-by-song play of the Bring It On album although the last song The Comeback is absent, inexplicably considering the inclusion during a similarly themed tenth anniversary tour. The first three songs (Get Miles, Whippin’ Piccadilly and Make No Sound) are an eclectic selection sung by either Ben and Ian before Tom switches from keyboards to guitar for 78 Stone Wobble in which all three vocalists sing. While the audience sings along during the ballad Tijuana, the next song Here Comes The Breeze contains instrumental interplay that lifts the mood of nostalgia and the audience starts getting into the groove. A lone voice calls out “How fucking good is this?” and there is laughter onstage and off in the break before Love Is Better Than a Warm Trombone. The audience almost becomes a choir during Get Myself Arrested, which is described afterwards as “beautiful singing”.

Before Bubble Gum Years, Tom warns that his keyboard is not working properly and the song may have to be abandoned but this doesn’t eventuate and it’s thumbs up at the end with Tom adding that his keyboard has worse jet lag than him. Discordant guitars mark the beginning of Rie’s Wagon and several audience members initially hold hands to their ears while Ben’s slide guitar via his Crybaby pedal is joined by an intermittent shrill whistle from the audience adding to the cacophony. A clap along is contributed to the start of Shot Shot and during the rocking instrumental passages the bearded Ben really could be mistaken for Metallica’s James Hetfield. There is a rapturous applause usually reserved as an end of set sign of appreciation before Ben states, “Moving on” and they commence a suite of songs from their follow-up album, Liquid Skin. Two thirds of the remainder of the songs are from that second album including the title track of their debut.

The band thank long-time sound mixer Dave who is turning fifty today and the audience turn to face a nonplussed Dave at the mixing desk for an impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday. This is followed by a ballad Dave apparently likes, We Haven’t Turned Around. Tom’s technical difficulties continue when he has a problem with a bass string prior to Blue Moon Rising and he comments, “A man tries to play a bossa nova and the world says fuck no!”. It’s rock and roll from here on out excepting the pre-encore Bring It On, which starts as a representation of their electronic explorations, although this too is overtaken by the traditional rock instrumentation.

Returning for the encore, Ben feigns surprise with, “You’re still here!” describing their set as “a little ragged around the edges but that was always the way, right?” before Revolutionary Kind with an overeager audience participating in another sing along. Tom jokes, “Thanks Dave for fifty years of service. We’ve got a clock for you” and Ben announces, “Thanks for stopping by… One more for the road” before the last song Airstream Driver is performed being the most recent although it is actually nine years old.

Little old Adelaide can be maligned by the mechanics of the touring circuit with some bands overlooking our state so it feels good to know that the show tonight is the not only their first since 2014 but the first on this world tour. In case you didn’t fully take in at the time: Gomez, Adelaide thanks you!

Live Review by Jason Leigh


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