Gomez – O2 Academy Oxford – 23rd August 2018
In 1998 Oasis had just released their lukewarm and somewhat impotent Be Here Now. Blur had shed their ‘knees up mother brown’ skin and dropped a predominantly American-influenced garage-rock album. And two dreary bands who would shape the next five years, Snow Patrol and Travis, released their debut records. Britpop was dying and it was palpable. Bands lacked the imagination to do anything other that imitate their predecessors in a vain hope of resuscitating the tired old corpse.
Into this cultural blackhole fell Bring It On, a weird but plucky album by a hazy five-piece from Southport. Although containing hooky choruses, the unassuming maestros constructed their record from bluesy grooves, experimental curiosity and a totally nonpartisan spirit. The results: a Mercury Prize and the belief that life after Britpop could be something truly spectacular.
Twenty years on and a sell out show at Oxford’s O2 Academy excites a loyal throng who still remember the immaculate conception that is Bring It On. From the slow burning Get Miles, there is depth, bravery and soul in Ottewell’s idiosyncratic drawl as the fuzz of the bass provokes a knot in the gut and a lump in the throat. Although twenty years have allowed them to hone their craft, Gomez never indulge themselves and despite having the capacity to veer down experimental rabbit holes, give us the album we’ve cherished for all those years.
Their ability to create freeform and complex ideologies while simultaneously weaving chunky, sing-song choruses is exceptional and anyone at the O2 will testify with aching vocal chords that some songs are written to be sung en-mass. To combine two seemingly juxtaposed composition styles shows the artistry of a truly accomplished act.
Just to sweeten a most sugary confection, we are treated to a few other favourites, Shot Shot and Rhythm and Blues Alibi absolutely raising the roof before a reprise of Whipping Piccadilly ends the night in an unashamed pogo pit.
Sometimes albums belong when and where they were fashioned and to revisit can be a painfully dismaying experience. One day I’ll play my children Bring It On and my money is on it sounding as fresh and vibrant as it did back when my thirteen year-old self so fell in love wth it.
5 / 5