For all of the peculiarity of a seated rock gig, tonight’s show was perhaps symbolic of the headway that Gaz Coombes has made since migrating from the wry, hedonistic spirit of Supergrass to the more expansive territory of solo artist. And perhaps this is no more evident than in a 30-to-40-something audience, who would have once jollied shoulder-to-shoulder to the happy-go-lucky hits of his formative Brit Pop past.
Now, that same audience enjoys the performance sat cross-legged, quaffing away, safe in the knowledge that they are the oldest and wisest that they've ever been.
Tonight’s show is all about showcasing Coombes’ new solo album, Matador. It’s a diverse affair, sweeping from the tender to the raucous; acoustic to electronic. From the off, Coombes cuts an examined figure. He opens on piano with the sweet sentiments of ‘Buffalo’, and moves through the gears, arriving at ‘English To Ruse’, where an unhinged melee of ordered chaos ensues from each of the five-piece band - a joyously thrilling spectacle in itself.
The on-stage mayhem soon possesses a lady from the front row to break the seated mould by rising to her feet and letting loose - a sentiment that Coombes is more than happy to entertain. He waves her on and she sees out the remainder of the track alongside her idol, capering heroically out of time on her own personal cloud nine.
Again, a joyous spectacle to behold, and one that really lifts the room. A 30-strong choir is added to the mix, stealthily moving in at the rear of a candle-lit stage for dramatic effect. They announce themselves with warm soulful harmonies and when cuts like the beautifully moving ‘To The Wire’ and ’20-20’ take hold, their gospel addition elevates the performance to new heights.
Title track ‘Matador’ encapsulates Coombes’ appeal: a Brit-popist coming-of-age, a fascinating songwriter, and by the time a coda of ‘Break The Silence’ sees us out, one that brings a room to their feet and fills dancing in their shoes.