Gomez, Eagle & The Worm
Corner Hotel | 21 October 2012
Taking up every inch of space on the small side stage at the Corner, the eight-piece Eagle & The Worm are full of energy. They look so very young and fresh, and their sound blasts through the room. The vocal harmonies, prominent keyboard and a three-piece horn section create a fun party vibe perfect for the live scene. Most songs are upbeat and catchy, however Too Young, a song influenced by bandleader Jarrad Brown’s love for The Beach Boys, is a slightly discordant number that doesn’t quite work for the crowd, certainly not as well as the rockier songs with their pulsing, big-band rhythm.
The red curtains guarding the secrets of the main stage open to reveal a false alarm; the only greeting is from inanimate instruments. Twenty minutes of staring at the various bits and a few wafts of blue smoke later and Gomez appear, ready to celebrate 15 years of live action with their Quinceañera Tour. Fans have been invited to help choose the setlists for this tour, and opener Get Miles from debut album Bring It On ensures they honour fan favourites from their impressive back catalogue.
Vocalist/guitarists Ben Ottewell and Tom Gray claim centre stage and stage right respectively. Third vocalist Ian Ball randomly roams stage left, sometimes looking a little spaced-out. It seems as if he could come unhinged at times but somehow he manages to get to the mic just in time for his parts and his guitar work doesn’t miss a beat. Drummer Olly Peacock is the non-stop rhythmic engine room and bassist Paul Blackburn plods happily in perfect time, looking completely at ease. Gomez display a spirit of collaboration born from a long time together; they are loose, relaxed and happy.
The funk of Love Is Better Than A Warm Trombone wakes the audience up from what could possibly be a bit of Sunday night fatigue and Whippin’ Piccadilly gets them jumping with joyous musical abandon. Sweet Virginia and Tijuana Lady are excellent examples of the versatility of the Gomez machine; both are exquisite additions to the setlist. Songs from latest album Whatever’s On Your Mind get a run but seem slightly pedestrian when played alongside the gritty, swamp rock of ‘old’ Gomez.
There is a lot of good stuff on offer. They play heavyweights We Haven’t Turned Around and Rhythm And Blues Alibi from 1999 album Liquid Skin, and cult favourite Machismo even gets a run, with Gray commenting, “I’m amazed we can still play that!” For the many diehards pressed up against the stage, this is a glorious night of reminiscing.
To finish, How We Operate is fantastic: the slow build of Ottewell’s minor key melody merges into the dark groove that is Gomez at their best. This is authentic, bluesy, brilliant Gomez – and given the capacity crowd, this is one 15-year birthday party every fan wants to be at.