Growing up in Leeds you can find a variety of sounds, but one that has always been iconic in the Leeds Music Scene has been Jon Gomm. Jon's obvious talent and great musical integrity always gave Jon legendary status as a guitar player and musician, but also as an independent artist. Being innovative, creative and original, it's no wonder Jon's recent fame came in the form of the viral phenomenon of the internet with his track 'Passionflower' having reached millions of viewers and recognition for his truly unique style of playing finally being received. There are few that epitomise the true nature of being an independent artist in this current time than Jon Gomm and it's a true credit to him for following his ethical viewpoint that has afforded him the genuine right for freedom that any inspired independent artist has a right to, for their own creativity. The current world we live in with all its connection and hyper speed could be a bit overwhelming for most, but having a grounded perspective and knowing where you're coming from certainly helps and it appears that way with Jon Gomm. The continuation of his remarkable journey brings him back to a homecoming gig in Leeds with another guitar master Andy Mckee but also another legend Preston Reed, who is seen as one of the greatest guitar players ever and without his contribution to music, it's unlikely we would have the unique sounds of Gomm and Mckee that they do so well. For me this was a gig not to be missed!
I couldn't think a better stage than the City Varieties to stage this epic event. The venue with all its eccentricities and operatic feel seemed truly appropriate for such an ensemble of innovative talent. First on was Jon Gomm and, naturally a little nervous returning to his residing home town, now an internationally recognised musician and on tour with his main musical influence, but for me it was Jon playing as he's always played, with heart, soul and passion. 'Temporary' was his first tune and, judging by the gasps in the crowd, there were many intrigued first time audience members witnessing Gomm's range of finger tapping, distorted effects, percussion sounds and heartfelt vocals. A subtle introduction to the evening was followed by recently released version of 'Ain't Nobody' by Chaka Khan that is rightly gaining much critical acclaim around the world. This tune is an excellent display of guitar ingenuity that creates a really classy cover of such a great track. The next song 'Gloria' saw a realness to Gomm that absolutely endeared the crowd, bringing a real 'northern' soul attitude and an astute strength of personality demonstrating previous experience playing a plethora of different types of gig. Vocal quips and genuine rhetoric throughout the set allowed the potential for some banter, creating a lighter atmosphere and leaving the discerning listener with something to think about, as well as introducing the nature and benefit of downloads as a medium to listen to tunes and maintain the independence of the creative artist. Jon finished with 'Hey Child'; a powerful, mind blowing tune displaying great imagination with effects and percussion, and lastly, ending aptly with 'Passionflower' that probably brought much of the audience to this event. It was clear Jon Gomm had enjoyed this homecoming gig and was truly excited to have Preston Reed following him next on stage!
For me witnessing New Yorker Preston Reed was a real highlight of the evening. To see a genuine innovator of the guitar still developing his craft for us to enjoy was astonishing to say the least! An almost Norse God like presence struck the guitar like Thor's hammer, dazzling us with the most remarkable of guitar playing, but also showing us finesse and grace with a ballad in the set too. I particularly remember 'Rainmaker' that seemed like Keith Moon had somehow resurrected through the guitar to provide the percussion! Outstanding guitar skills no question!
American Andy Mckee was headlining the evening, who like Jon, took his inspiration from Preston Reed and gained success via the internet. His YouTube hit 'Drifting' was the first track to be played. His style of soulful, intricate guitar skills also with the unique percussion in the mix, really lifted my spirits to a space of joy. He certainly captured my imagination and lifted my soul. Other tunes like 'Joyland' and a cover of Tears For Fears classic 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' certainly left everyone feeling rather satisfied. After Andy's solo set, all three musicians got on stage and played together, playing Gomm's 'Waterfall', Mckee's 'Dependent Arising' and Reed's 'Ladies Night'. A real treat to end on!
There's no doubt this was an extraordinary night! Some of the skills displayed seemed to have other planetary qualities to create the sounds that they had somehow mastered! It was clear to me that each artist was inspired by each other in some way and no question it was a real honour to have Preston Reed there, especially for Jon Gomm's homecoming gig! Certainly the crowd knew that something special was going on, to even a pop loving member of the audience. For me this definitely was something special, as supporting artists that go their own way in the music industry, who follow their bliss, passion and excitement, genuinely adds inspiration to music. Witnessing this live only confirmed that and fortunately as we live in a modern age, we can support such talent through the internet to allow such great events to continue. My only advice would be make sure you catch these guys live soon as talent like this usually isn't witnessed for too long. Catch them if you can before they depart on the Mothership!
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