In only his second live performance as a solo act performing his debut album in its entirety, former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes essentially had a lot to prove at the Barfly last night. While as of late known more for his appearance in the recent Toyota Yaris TV advert than his musical output, the time has now come for him to show us he has what it takes to stand on his own two feet.
Hosted by XFM, the audience were reminded that the performance was being recorded with the intention to be played on air later in the week. With that said, the jam packed room seemed very lively, even during the non-performance intermissions. With banter loud, and anticipation in abundance, Coombes’ entrance on to the stage generated a mini frenzy not usually reserved for someone who’s been out of the spotlight for as long as he has.
Donned in a bright red zipped up jacket, complete with his trademark overgrown haircut, he and his band - The Bombs, stood firm whilst a sample track, which can only be described as a spawn of the Dubstep genre, set the scene for a very eclectic 45 minutes of music.
Switching in and out of styles - indie, rock, and electro to name but a few, the tone of the evening seemed to match that of the futuristic 80’s sci-fi percussion arrangement that was sometimes played by the band’s drummer, and other times programmed in to the sample machine. It was without question pretty epic at times. Whether you adopted a relaxed state of mind when witness to some unsystematic bell chimes and calming vocal echoes, or a more heavy duty and highly aggressive overview, which seemed to work when certain tracks were played, you were definitely left wondering if you were a part of a theatrical score.
Atmospherically thoughtful, and a far cry from what many of the crowed seemed to be expecting, tracks such as ‘Universal Cinema’ displayed Coombes’ ability to be an artist and work with his current inspirations. Who cares whether or not it sounds like Supergrass? Nobody in the crowed on this particular evening did. A true artist enjoys what they are doing and feeds off of the creative talent that they’ve been gifted with.
With a few jokes and comments made here and there - “I’m still trying to re-learn a lot of these chords so bare with me,” the actual interaction with the audience was pretty minimal. The man commanding everyone’s attention seemed to be having fun. Random facial expressions, a few strides to the left and right, as well as strumming his ass off, the performance was an enjoyable one.
While the new material might be like Marmite to some, those swinging more towards the hate it side of the campaign need to see him live in action. They might just then start putting it on their toast and calling it delicious.