A British group with a Spanish name, Gomez has always been about messing with people’s perception of the group. Sure, looking at the three microphones, two drums kits and three unmanned guitars on the empty stage at New York City’s Webster Hall the band seemed primed to do their best Allman Brothers impersonation. But appearances can be deceiving and for the first few minutes of their set on the first day of summer, it seemed like the boys from Southport, England were only going to give the packed house a chance to do the Coldplay-sway, and not the Bron-Y-Aur stomp.
But half way through opener “Bring It On” the true nature of Gomez was revealed in a sonic blast of guitars, drums and Paul Blackburn’s soulful bass line that the crowd found unabashedly bounce-worthy. From then on, the band continued to rock through a set that mixed old favorites (including an extra funky “Love is Better than a Warm Trombone” and hip-hop heavy “Ruff Stuff”) and with a fair amount of new tunes, all of which sounded like improved and extended versions of their album counterparts. The heaviest songs from the new album (the subdued and polished How We Operate) “All Too Much” and “How We Operate”, were transformed into more powerful jams, with the title track getting the full on dueling guitars and double-your-pleasure drums treatment during lengthy coda.
The band changed the pace on a few occasions to provide the crowd with periodic respites from the summer heat and constant hopping. The slower tunes also served to provide a perfect demonstration of where each of the band’s three main singers fit on the vocal spectrum. There was Ben Ottewell’s signature Deep South growl playing perfect contrast to the cheery folk of “See the World,” Ian Ball’s quintessential Brit-pop vocals on the introspective “Notice” and Tom Gray’s earnest singing on the acoustic “Sound of Sounds,” falling somewhere in between his two bandmates.
The carnival atmosphere was highest during the band’s customary closer, “Whippin’ Piccadilly.” A perfect blend of acoustic melodies, electric power, psychedelic keyboards, and clap-along backbeats, it is an anthem worthy of a festival on either side of the pond. As the show ended, the band’s distinct voices joined the crowd to sing the refrain, “there’s not enough hours in the day,” you got the impression that, despite in being the longest day of the year, everyone agreed with the sentiment.