Gomez, Leader Cheetah & Little John – Thursday August 4, The Palace Theatre 

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Gomez, Leader Cheetah & Little John – Thursday August 4, The Palace Theatre 


Little John opened the show to a select few and to use the well-worn cliché, those not yet in attendance sorely miss out on a short but impressive set of hoe-downs, murder-lite ballads and country soul, all buoyed by the group’s double bass, mandolin and deeply rich harmonies. At risk of being upstaged, Leader Cheetah followed with a set almost entirely focused on new album Lotus Skies. Midnight Headlights opened in grand fashion, lacking the strings evident on the record and only a little of the punch. It’s a puzzling sight when one guitarist wears construction-site headphones and the other strums an inaudible acoustic, and so the markedly hollow sound was improved dramatically when the acoustic was dropped for an electric for the last four songs. Crawling Up A Landslide was a highlight, and although the vocalist’s Neil Young-isms can tend to grate through shitty white headphones, it was merely an ingredient to a wider sound.

Gomez strutted onto stage to a ukulele cover of Whipping Piccadilly over the PA and launched straight into Bring It On, making it immediately clear that we were now in the hands of seasoned performers. Get Myself Arrested understandably drew the night’s first big crowd participation singalong, and with its rocked-out end was a life-affirming moment. They may be older and slightly fatter, but are no less potent and their individual talent is still striking. Ben handled all the tasty guitar licks, and Olly reminded us again that he is quite possibly, the Best Drummer In The World. Not quite sure then why they use an acoustic simulator on their guitars when there is a real acoustic, oh, I don’t know, right over there in Tom’s pasty white hands. Ruff Stuff speaks of “giving up fags and drugs now baby” and somewhat appropriately saw a seemingly homeless man (roadie?) stumble on stage with Ben for occasional barking into the mic. Of course they closed the night out with Whipping Piccadilly, but you got the sense that they could play a completely different set tomorrow night and it’d still be just as much fun. Their sense of innovation may have dissipated across recent albums into more ‘classic’ songwriting, but live they’re still masters of dynamics and keeping it all terribly interesting.

Loved: Options , as a wide grin crept across Ballsy’s face and mine

Hated: The beer prices.

Drank: Only what I could afford with a six month, interest-free loan