The most surprising thing about Gomez - Mercury Music Prize winners and purveyors of brawny blues-rock - is their innate ordinariness. This is a band who can safely show their faces in supermarkets, who could probably leave their packed-out shows through the front door without being noticed and might even be grateful for the attention of a few groupies. Theirs is a novel approach, where the music takes precedence - and the rest? Well, what else is there?
They first emerge as if from the jungle in a haze of green and yellow lights and Amazonian percussive noises (so that's why they call it swamp rock). They stop short of loincloths though, and from behind the fog appear six overgrown students.
Their efforts to spice up the show often errs on the wrong side of wacky - on one occasion what can only be described as inflatable root vegetables appear behind the band - and the stage remains a largely charisma-free zone.
But you can't begrudge their enthusiasm - there is lots of whooping, thigh-slapping and general larking about. The band even treats us to a home movie - here's Gomez looking pensive, Gomez frolicking in the sun, Gomez in silhouette. It's touching stuff. The zany antics of keyboardist, singer and would-be Blue Peter presenter Tom Gray get tiresome, though. It remained a mystery as to why he appeared at the end of "Waster" dressed as a matador.
But despite all Gomez's attempts to sabotage their own show, the music wins out. Ben Ottewell's voice is truly an aberration of nature - abrasive yet as balmy as a Mediterranean sunset. During the yearning "Make No Sound", he runs the gamut of human emotion, while throughout "Whippin' Piccadilly", his grizzled rasp achieves an upbeat breeziness.
Their music can be similarly startling, despite their propensity to indulge in psychedelic wig-outs. Amid their Seventies American stylings Gomez employ a broad palette of unexpected loops, squelches and fiendishly heavy riffs, marrying sounds that in any other context would be absurd.
But even with their appropriation of contemporary textures, an air of antiquity surrounds Gomez. They are one of the few bands around who sound timeless and, dare I say, unique. For that alone, you've got to give them credit. Fiona SturgesReuse content