Gomez + Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly @ Birmingham Academy – 3rd September 2008

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Tonight is rather a special occasion here at the Academy, something of a celebration. Why so, you may ask…well, this Gomez tour is to mark the tenth anniversary of the release of their superb debut album, ‘Bring It On’, and album that won the 1998 Mercury Music Prize, along with huge critical acclaim. The record is such a good one, that it really doesn’t feel like it could be anywhere near 10 years old – such is its original sound. It has avoided becoming dated and has never been copied. With the promise of it being played in full here tonight, no wonder you can almost taste the sense of anticipation in the Academy air.

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First up though, support from Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, aka British singer/songwriter Sam Duckworth. Taking the stage armed with nothing more than a guitar, a laptop and a microphone, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly’s music has an electro/folk crossover feel to it, which is neither awful nor anything particularly amazing. Duckworth’s live voice is excellent, and he does well to keep the audience interested for 45 minutes, with some good-humoured banter in between numbers helping him overcome some laptop issues. The main problem with Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly live is that, tonight at least, it is just Duckworth on his own, and his song style of finger-picked guitar over a backing track soon becomes formulaic. There is also a sincere lack of on stage energy, although this isn’t really too surprising. There are a lot worse acts out there that you could have to watch, but you can’t help but feel that you could get just as much from Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly as he gave tonight just by listening to his MySpace.

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And so onto the main event; the cheer that sounds when the lights go down is soon replaced by laughter as the theme from ‘Rocky’ sounds out. Then, the show begins with the brooding organ intro to “Get Miles”, which builds and builds before the superb voice of Ian Ball comes in. On stage, Gomez have so much power that it is hard to believe. They are incredibly loud but incredibly clear. “Whippin’ Piccadilly” sets the room bouncing, while the wonderfully atmospheric “Make No Sound” calms them down again. Hearing it in full on stage, you really understand just how good an album ‘Bring It On’ is, and the band are clearly enjoying giving it another airing – evidenced by the huge grin on Tom Gray’s face. “78 Stone Wobble” still has a timeless groove, while “Tijuana Lady” has never sounded better than it has tonight.

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Gomez are unique in that they have three exceptionally talented, and very different vocalists, and all three are on fire tonight; its even better when the grit of Ian Ball, the pop tones of Ben Ottewell and the subtle cool of Tom Gray sing together for some wonderful harmonies – such as on “Here Comes the Breeze”. “Love Is Better Than a Warm Trumpet” sounds so much heavier than it does on record, and all the better for it, while “Get Myself Arrested” is still one of Gomez’s defining moments. “Free to Run” is excellent – atmospheric but understated, while the rare live outing of “Bubblegum Years” shows just how bluesy and jazz influenced this band are, and perhaps shows why so many different people like them. Then, onto the climax – the melancholic, powerful and almost psychedelic “Rie’s Wagon”. It may well, as Ball says, “show just how many drugs we used to take”, but seriously, the sound coming from these five men is something else.

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The band do return for a few more songs – some new and some older ones, but they don’t come close to topping the cuts from ‘Bring It On’. While this encore does underline just how Gomez have never really been able to match their debut, it really doesn’t matter. Seeing that album played in full, on stage, is enough to put tonight down as an incredibly special evening. This is the kind of music that almost anyone would enjoy, and is played by a band so talented that you can’t help but stare on in wonder. Let’s hope they do this again in another ten years!

Review – Dave Musson
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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