The instruments of rock at the Beaumont Club last night consisted of more than the usual drums, guitar and bass. For its headlining set, bluesy British rockers Gomez incorporated various kinds of shakers; a keyboard + blowing tube contraption (that broke by the end of the song) that I guess was a vocorder; a kazoo; and an iPhone. The stage was also dotted with multiple Apple laptops and keyboards, and the guitarists swapped out their instruments with just about every song.
The voices changed, too. Gomez has three singers who frequently harmonize with each other and trade lead vocal duties. The most memorable voice comes from the woody pipes of Ben Ottewell, who I kind of kept hoping would break into an old Irish folk song. His thick, slightly gruff tone would be perfect for that. But while Gomez's rock often gets downright rootsy, those roots reach out of the blues.
I kept having flashes of O.A.R. during the set, but that may have been crowd-related. The room was a little more than half-full. Most of the casually dressed folks I could easily imagine seeing in the audience for an O.A.R.-type jam session. And Gomez can jam -- the psych-rock portion of the evening included a stretched out and very Doors-y "Blue Moon Rising.," a track off Gomez's 2005 ATO Records release Out West. But to cast Gomez in the jam band camp would be unfair. In the same way that the band utilizes an ever-changing array of instruments and voices, it genre-hops.
Nothing on the band's latest ATO release, A New Tide, which came out this year, gets quite as guttural as "Blue Moon Rising." The New songs and those that appear on 2006's excellent How We Operate are loud, quiet, rocky, folksy, even at times a little bit indie-sounding. This is either the result of a band that hasn't quite settled on its own signature sound or evidence of a band that's adaptive and creative enough to avoid falling into a musical rut. Either way, Gomez sure kept things interesting last night.