Review – Gomez at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Sept 26 2011
– by Erin Hanson
Gomez appears to feel right at home on the West Coast. Returning to Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom yet again, the British quintet complimented the city and its people more than once throughout the show.
Of course, this is one of the oldest tricks in the rock-show handbook, but when coming from Gomez, you feel they really mean it. After all, they’ve been good to us. They unfailingly play our fair city when they tour, and frontman/ guitarist/bassist Tom Gray acknowledged the unfaltering dedication of Vancouver’s Gomez army when he told us, “We’re truly lucky, after all this
time, to have such great fans.” It was as though Tom knew that it wasn’t necessarily their latest release(s) that brought people to the Commodore on Monday night, but the reputation they’ve earned over the past 13 years as immensely talented musicians who have such chemistry onstage, the audience is guaranteed to have a good time.
Openers the Kopecky Family Band got the dancefloor a-rocking, but once they cleared the stage there was an unmistakable apprehension in the air. The band walked onstage to a slowed-down, acoustic cover of “Whipping Piccadilly” by a female vocalist – the audience curious as to where they were going with this – but then Gomez launched right into their set
no-holds-barred with “Bring it On”, an explosive early track.
Showcasing Gomez’s talent at crafting in-your-face choruses interspersed with quirky melodic interludes, it was loud, and set the tone for the evening. Gomez kept barging on as they followed up with another loud energy-raiser, “Shot Shot”. The band delved into their newest release Whatever’s On Your Mind – but only a bit: they played “The Place and the People” before
giving us an audience favourite, “Get Myself Arrested”.
The thing with Gomez is that, in a way, every song is a fan favourite. “See the World” had the audience singing louder than the band, “Here Comes the Breeze” transfixed us, and even the new “Whatever’s On Your Mind” had the audience singing along to the sombre-yet-hopeful chorus.
Also in their set: “Airstream Driver”, “Silence”, “In Our Gun”, “Equalize”, “Fill My Cup”, “Revolutionary Kind” and – perhaps the highlight of the night – their cover of “Meet Me in the City”, a song vocalist/guitarist Ben Ottewell introduced as, “a dirty-ass blues song.”
The effect of Ian Ball’s sultry vocals paired with Ottewell’s alto overlay, plus Gray on the piano, resulted in one heck of a sexy performance that resonated deep, deep in the gut. Of course, we couldn’t let them leave the stage for long, and after their set Gomez came back for “Devil Will Ride”, “Whipping Piccadilly”, and the soulful “Get Miles”.
The audience was certainly well-behaved (given it was a Monday night). The floor was tranquil for the Commodore, as the crowd – most with large smiles on their faces – took it all in. The charming and charismatic Gray kept our spirits high as he consistently gestured for us to make noise or invited us sing along and just plain take part. His smile and energy was infectious. It was apparent that these five musicians were having a good time onstage and just wanting us to join in the fun.
Gomez’s spontaneous and democratic approach to such vibrant music is what makes them remain interesting after all this time. It’s safe to say Gomez could come back to Vancouver each year, new record or not, and still have a legion of fans that will never tire of watching them do what they do.
More Gomez photos from Rifflandia, Sept 25 2011 (Royal Athletic Park, Victoria):