Gaz Coombes


Last time I was at Gorilla, I was watching Neneh Cherry kick out ‘Buffalo Stance’. Tonight it’s former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, who begins his set with none other than, Buffalo. An apt continuum, indeed. Make no bones about it though – unlike Cherry who belted out a few former big numbers, there are no big hitters from the “Alright” days here. Coombes plays solely new material, from Here Come the Bombs and new album Matador. But with an expertly polished, powerful, mature sound, it is a wholly welcome new direction from Supergrass.

Coombes graces the stage with confidence, but not swagger, and it’s clear to see why. On a small stage, his voice is nothing short of immaculate. That level of clarity, depth of feeling and accuracy, I have only really witnessed watching James Dean Bradfield of The Manic Street Preachers, and Michael Stipe of REM. In a manufactured music world awash with auto-tuning and tone-deaf wannabes, it’s a stark reminder of how remarkable real music, sung with real talent, can be. But there again, Coombes has had a fair few years to perfect his art.

After ‘Buffalo’, Gaz and the band drive into some of Matador’s offerings. With power-packed guitars, peppered with electronic glitches and a mix of infectious and brooding melodies, the album’s critical acclaim is not unfounded. Stand out tracks in particular are ‘The Girl Who Fell to Earth’, which I must admit, I’ve fallen a little bit in love with. Featuring finger-picked guitars and Coombes’ achingly beautiful melody, it’s an instant hit and a spine-tingling moment. ‘Needle’s Eye’ and ‘Detroit’ also, with their catchy choruses, go down a treat, feeling almost too epic for a smaller stage.

Though not groundbreaking, this is a slick, expertly delivered performance, with material strong enough to pique the interest of those who were quite obviously itching to hear a bit of Supergrass. I must admit, Coombes made absolutely the right call to not relent, by performing hits from the old days. It showed integrity, and confidence in a selection of new tunes which – unlike for many of his former contemporaries also attempting a solo career – displayed a sound significantly different and compelling. Coombes will undoubtedly be a familiar face on the festival circuit this year, I believe, and no less deserved. Well worth a watch.

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I'm a huge music lover, being a regular gig and festival goer, singer songwriter, tv/radio presenter and reviewer for Silent Radio.