Gomez | Fox Theatre

Gray's infectious energy is major part of the band's allure. Arrested in the moment, whether he's singing lead (the radio-friendly "girlshapedlovedrug") or not (the heavy, melodic "Ping One Down"), it's always obvious to the audience that he genuinely enjoys Gomez's music; he is a fan among fans of his own craft.

 

 

Boulder, Colo. (May 16)

Elastic, enigmatic, experimental. Gomez epitomizes more creative characteristics of namesake Gomez Adams than Virgin Records recognized-yes, this is the band Virgin let get away. On their latest disc, How We Operate, like the aforementioned Adams' toy trains colliding, Gomez detonate their tunes rather than easing into them via haphazard jams-a weakness that plagued their last recording for Virgin, Split the Difference. That new explosive quality carried over to their recent show in Boulder's Fox Theatre.

Gomez's most credible attribute-the three-prong attack of frontmen Ian Ball, Ben Ottewell, and Tom Gray, evenly dividing lead singing duties-was in fine form from the fiery opening number, "Shot Shot." Thriving on multilayered melodies and existential lyrics, it's the merging of these three distinct personalities-any one of them could easily find success as a solo act-that makes Gomez so unique and accomplished as a musical entity. Onstage, the visceral essence and individual identities of this trio are key to the ebb and flow that is Gomez: Ball's the garage kid rock star with his Telecaster, Ottewell's the subdued, quiet leader/older brother figure with a Les Paul, and Gray's the poster man-child for ADHD: an enigma as acoustic guitarist, percussionist, and keyboardist who plays the everyman, pantomiming every lyric, every bridge, every chorus.

Gray's infectious energy is major part of the band's allure. Arrested in the moment, whether he's singing lead (the radio-friendly "girlshapedlovedrug") or not (the heavy, melodic "Ping One Down"), it's always obvious to the audience that he genuinely enjoys Gomez's music; he is a fan among fans of his own craft. He cajoles and charms the crowd; he loves what he does and we love him for it.

As a musical offering, How We Operate features a mature, more accomplished Gomez-and is quite possibly the band's very own Abbey Road, as exemplified during the performance of standouts "Hamoa Beach," "Tear Your Love Apart," and "Notice."

"I know what you're thinking," Gray addressed the 700-strong, sold-out Boulder crowd as the band began the Beatles-esque "See the World." "‘Don't take your foot off the gas now, Tom.'"

But it was the title track-a sinister musical noir of Ball's arpeggio Telecaster intro draped in a moody, ominous backbeat from founding drummer Olly Peacock, bassist Paul "Blackie" Blackburn, and multi-instrumentalist Dajon Everett-that proved the show's highlight. "Operate" also provided a welcome showcase for Ottewell's meticulous gruff tenor, a treat for fans disappointed by the band's omission of his set staple, "Get Miles."

The band's stellar 2002 offering In Our Gun-the record that single-handedly resuscitated Gomez's live act-has become the cornerstone of their show, resulting in a harder-edged, high-velocity set of songs spearheaded by the cacophonous Who-influenced "Ping One Down" and "Army Dub." Another Gun gem, the drug reference-fueled "Ruff Stuff" was well received and celebrated by the crowd.

Gomez closed out the night by revisiting crowd-pleasers from earlier in their career, including Ottewell's melodramatically innocent "Get Myself Arrested" and Ball's encore of "Whippin' Piccadilly," never once taking their foot off the gas.

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