Gomez, John Smith @ The Gov, Adelaide 12/11/2019

There is a huge roar from the crowd as Gomez takes to The Gov stage tonight. The band are still enjoying themselves after twenty three years together and on this tour, they are commemorating the release of their second album Liquid Skin from 1999 following on from a tour early last year similarly celebrating their debut Bring It On.

Liquid Skin is my favourite Gomez album and to my ears, it is “all killer, no filler” and it took them from Triple J favourites to wider exposure perhaps boosted by the use of We Haven’t Turned Around in the film American Beauty. When this song is played during their set it is actually preceded by a friendly argument within the ranks of the band (mainly Ben Ottewell and Tom Gray) as to whether or not it should be described as “power ballad”.

Tonight was not a note for note recital of the Liquid Skin album as they made it different by pushing the guitar sound to the front of the mix. The raucous Fill My Cup really suited the full-on guitar sound tonight. The brilliant song Las Vegas Dealer sung by Ian Ball delves into odd time signatures while northern soul piano blends with ska rhythms.

There is a genuine camaraderie on display among the long term members of Gomez throughout their set that includes their touring support John Smith who joins the band prior to and during the encore (jokingly introduced as Ben Ottewell’s son) Ben is a hulking figure on stage looking like an ageless Seth Rogen. He has a sweet yet gravelly voice and his sparse version of Rosalita tonight reminded me of when I saw him perform it on one of his three solo visits to Adelaide.

Ian and Tom get their turns on lead vocals and they both have wonderful and distinctive voices. While having three singers in the band is not uncommon (the Beatles come to mind, although that prompts debate), tonight even bass player Paul Blackburn briefly steps up to the mic during the epic, audience stirring performance of Get Myself Arrested. What is rare is the diversity of styles played, the songs all having the immediately recognisable stamp of “Gomez”.

Devil Will Ride with its incredibly catchy vocoder vocals at the start and magnificent guitar riffs finished the album and the set. The encore consisted of Detroit Swing 666 followed by four songs from the first album finishing with a really different version of Whipping’ Piccadilly which the band described as “a different song each night but it is the same song”. So ended a fantastic night with many loud sing-alongs from the crowd but I am hoping that next tour will either be to promote a new album or a greatest hits tour which would hopefully include some later released brilliant songs that have not been played for the last two tours.

The only low light of the night was the support set by John Smith who was mostly ignored by an audience generally showing little to no respect during his performance. This unfortunate situation did not allow those in the audience that were interested to hear John’s songs and placed an early dark cloud over a night that was otherwise thoroughly enjoyable. During John’s solo set he mentioned that his jet lag was still so bad he could taste colours. To truly enjoy John you will have to see him when he does his own gig at the Grace Emily on Wednesday night with hopefully a much more respectful audience.

Live Review By Rick De Pizzol

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