Jon Gomm – found guilty of mesmerising The Bread Shed with a combo of mind boggling guitar work and most excellent songs. And more…
You know the score. We say it every time – ‘always see the support band’. So when one of the world’s most innovative and admired guitarists is in town finally getting to do the album launch tour for a record (The Faintest Idea – which we were pretty enthralled with) that was released just over a year ago, you have to be there. When local hero Matt Fryers is announced in the support slot, even more so.
It’s new guitars all round too, with Matt sporting an impressively marked model and Jon breaking in his new Ibanez, having retired his old model – noting the marks already appearing and the thorough workout it gets during the evening, you can understand why a deserved retirement is due.
I recall enthusing about Matt a few years back on some online pages, likening his live acoustic Raw EP with the great Chris Cornell. High praise indeed and fully deserved and justified. He’s a humble guy too, expressing the simple hope that “I hope I don’t f**k up,” the chance to open for such an esteemed musician. He didn’t and in the process did himself the power of good to play in front of an appreciative and enthusiastic company. And like the esteemed headliner, he’s a musician fro whom playing to real people is so vital – that comes across so genuinely.
Exploring where endless begins, we found Matt seeking redemption with songs inspired by lockdown wobbles, computer games (and the advice to never leave your game unattended) and the inevitable misspent youth. His delivery alternatives between the soulful and bluesy, getting lost in the music as he implores someone somewhere to “carry me, take my soul away.” It’s an inspirational start to the evening.
Jon from Blackpool – we won’t report how he describes his hometown, suffice to say that Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and Roy Harper join him as famous sons of the famous seaside resort. Mouthing along to The Smiths’ There Is A Light That Never Goes Out playing over the PA as he made final adjustments gave a hint that Jon Gomm wasn’t just going to give a display of guitar gymnastics. Second song in, the mirror ball was in action as The Bread Shed became the Gomm soundtracked disco, the funky soul pouring from his guitar as we headed back to to his take on Ain’t Nobody. Not something you see every day.
Like Matt, a quiet humble man who’s faced his own demons, he seemed touched by the response from Manchester – fellow Lancastrians after all – as he guided us through a set that owed as much variety as a man with a guitar and effects board can manage in nigh on two hours.
Warned not to worry about weird stuff on stage (given after he’d had a lie down on the deck) he regaled with tales of his early days playing in Blackpool to holidaying and heckling Scots (“Play one we know” – “play one you know“) and his chav girlfriend. The between song banter very tongue in cheek verging on some much needed silliness as his diversions into those disco alternatives, Kate Bush and Eighties electro classics (the audience sang ‘most’ of Erasure’s A Little Respect) – he calls them “a little bit of fun.“
Aside from the ‘fun’ set pieces, he shows what you can do with a guitar, which includes a drum solo with most drum parts covered, bass and not a little slide guitar. He switches from the poignant (The Ghost Inside You is intense in a spiritual way) to the ambient and chilled and then grabs a plectrum to strum out (and shred too) an intense ethnic/Eastern vibe with a vocal that could just as well be a call to prayer. The sublime Deep Sea Fishes and encore of ‘the hit’ Passionflower sit side by side as two examples of how one song can transform a career and where it might take you if you scratch the surface.
Everyone comes to the end of the evening so much better for sharing an uplifting experience. Just the sort of therapy that we all needed.