Every once in a while, a musician comes along with that knockout combination of startling musicianship coupled with bags of stage presence and charisma that pool together to create an absolute force to be reckoned with. Jon Gomm of Blackpool (via Leeds) is one such force. Since taking the internet by storm with the help of one Stephen Fry, seeing a Jon Gomm show on English shores has become something of a rarity, but this tour (his most extensive UK tour to date) to promote his recent fan funded album 'Secrets Nobody Keeps', is one such occasion, and proves to be an evening not to be missed.
The evening opens up with local musician Adam Peter Smith whose set is well received. His original material incorporates some of the percussive style which tonight's headliner has popularised but the real feather in his cap is his incredible vocal range, which takes in everything from soft falsetto to long, powerful notes coming straight from the diaphragm. Later on in the set, he brings on one of his friends who is dressed in his best dungarees for the occasion. It is not immediately apparent why Smith needed an accompaniment, but when the two trade off vocal harmonies it really lifts the sound.
The main attraction tonight is unmistakeably Jon Gomm. His set list spans all three of his albums with an array of cover tunes thrown in for good measure. Although Gomm is nothing short of a virtuoso, the evening never once feels like an elitist muso session where only men with beards and ponytails who know what an augmented flat seventh is and why it matters are allowed admittance. In actual fact, the crowd is an incredibly diverse mix of males and females ranging from late teens to suspected sexagenarians. There is a sense of unity in the tiny, packed room, filled with almost definitely the most good-natured, friendly crowd I have ever witnessed or been a part of. It is clear that everyone is here to listen and to appreciate.
And Gomm gives plenty to appreciate. From his mighty take on Chaka Khan's 'Ain't Nobody' (with special guest vocals for one night only), to his own intricate and varied originals. Tonight, the dissonant, cacophonous 'Weather Machine' gets an airing, as does the hilarious country swing of 'Gloria'. The new songs from his upcoming album also received a fantastic reception, including the brooding strains of 'Telepathy' and the eastern influenced 'Wukan Motorcycle Kid'. These performances bode well for the quality of the new album, but perhaps the biggest cheer of the night is afforded to Jon Gomm's calling card song, none other than the mighty 'Passionflower' which gets performed confidently and note perfect. The only thing breaking the utter silence in the tiny crowd is the sound of about one hundred jaws simultaneously hitting the floor.
It is a night of great stories, great music and a remarkably relaxed vibe which all combine to make this a truly special evening. The final song is a note (and percussion) perfect cover of Radiohead's 'High and Dry', which Gomm performs completely unplugged, standing on what I assume to have been a table in the middle of the audience. Once again everyone is stunned into silence at this very special musician, on this very intimate evening. This is a man who surely will not be able to keep playing these tiny venues for very long due to popular demand, which makes a night like this even more incredible.
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