Review: All new Gaz Coombes

25 Apr 2013 @ 6.48 am
| Entertainment

Upbeat: Gaz Coombes at The Duchess. Photographs: Matt Seddon
Review: Gaz Coombes
Venue: The Duchess, April 22

It’s been three years since Supergrass somewhat quietly bowed out under the old “creative differences”. Frontman Gaz Coombes returned last year with his first solo album Here Come The Bombs which was well received by fans and critics alike. April 2013 sees the man leave the comforts of his Oxfordshire home studio where he is recording the follow up and hit the road for a short tour of intimate venues in support of that first album.

Past reviews promise much tonight and I do not expect Brit Pop nostalgia or Supergrass songs, with a set obviously leaning heavily on Here Come The Bombs and even newer material, this is about what’s happening now.

The oddly set up stage makes a refreshing change, with drum kit to the left behind Gaz’s keyboard, opposite is another keyboard player with bass and guitarist sandwiched in the middle. The stage is lit with four green neon lights giving a warm and inviting setting. Whether session musicians or friends, the band are definitely the backing band to the solo act, this much is true from the off.

Trippy opener Bombs sets the scene and builds nicely to the album’s lead single Hot Fruit, and for the first 4-5 songs it’s all sounding great. There is a definite experimental feel to a lot of the material which is good, mixing up the indie rock of old with loops and beats, Gaz switches between acoustic and electric guitar and keyboard throughout.

Some songs show elements of trippy, chilled dance beats and grooves which goes down well in the setting, by mid set though I did find myself yearning for a quick blast of Caught By The Fuzz or Mansize Rooster. I know he is promoting the solo stuff and it’s a new start, but the songs are generally mid paced such as the acoustic White Noise, on record a great song very much in the Supergrass vein, but here seems a bit lacklustre, and I feel maybe chucking in a few older tracks may have upped it a bit.

Gaz "mixing up the indie rock of old with loops and beats"
Gaz “mixing up the indie rock of old with loops and beats”

This feeling is confirmed by a great cover of Mirror In The Bathroom by The Beat which sounds fantastic, but the biggest cheers are for the two encores of Supergrass songs tonight. Gaz takes to the stage with his acoustic for a sweet rendition of Moving, with vocal backing from his keyboard player. The full band return for a kicking Richard III which finishes things off on a high. 

Very humble and appreciative Gaz thanks the crowd throughout the set. He seems generally upbeat and happy, yet there are sound issues tonight on stage, the poor soundman earns his wage with multiple signals from the frontman, and he even has to re-start one song due to the sound problems.

There may be technical issues on stage but all sounds good out front. The band are tight and the songs are well played. These new songs are far removed from the Supergrass of old and show how Gaz has progressed, free from the confines of the Supergrass mould. Yet I am generally left with the feeling that it was the cover version and the encores that really shone brightly tonight, so what does that tell you? Maybe I just need to spend more time with the album.