Gomez has had quite the interesting career. Following a Mercury Prize-winning debut, the band substantially lost much of their revered British fanbase over the course of a few years whilst simultaneously becoming superstars across the pond. They have been all but dropped by their British label but have also delivered highly-acclaimed Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits performances and lengthy tours with String Cheese Incident, Spearhead, and Cake. Their unique experiences dealing with both sides of the coin of success have spawned four fantastic studio releases and one “b-sides and alternate takes” collection. Also, a new deal with Dave Matthews’ ATO label has their library resting comfortably with ATO. To celebrate the recent success, three sold-out January shows at San Francisco’s venerable Fillmore Auditorium have engendered Gomez Out West, two discs of sheer musical delight.

Gomez Out West documents the band’s newfound success and musical reinvigoration that has taken place in North America. The discs showcase both the new and the old, in traditional eclectic Gomez fashion. Still, the older songs that clog Get Miles and Bring It On dominate the live set. Both “Get Miles” and “Shot Shot” are tracks that embody Gomez’s rock-infused melting pot aesthetic on the first disc. Also great is the anthemic collegiate-influenced bass-heavy “Hangover,” spawned from dorm room jamming at Sheffield University in the UK. The second disc is much of the same, offering spirited renditions of Gomez classics led fiercely by “Get Myself Arrested” (featuring a fan sing-a-long), “Blue Moon Rising” and “Whippin’ Piccadilly.” A couple covers of Tom Waits and Nick Drake add yet another element to the quintet’s diversity. Both discs are stuffed with sparse improvisation, gorgeous three-part vocal melodies, forceful rhythmic backing, and simply brilliant, albeit straightforward songwriting - exactly what makes Gomez one of the most exciting bands on the planet.

This disc should not be a replacement for any of the band’s studio offerings, nor should it truly be an introduction to the wide world of Gomez. Instead, Gomez Out West exhibits a band, newly settling into the prime of their career, showing off how they got there. To truly appreciate and understand the beauty of this double-disc set, dust off the studio releases, including Get Miles, the highly underrated Split the Difference and Abandon Shopping Trolly Hotline in order to re-familiarize your senses with Gomez’s bubbling crock-pot of rock, Americana, grunge, Brit-rock, and all condiments in-between. What this career-spanning live set does provide is a greasy greatest hits package and an extremely enthusiastic portrait of the band’s future. Simply put, Gomez Out West is the story of how seven lads from the University of Sheffield continue to break down rock’s steadfast conventions, one show at a time.

Shain Shapiro
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 6/3/05]

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