Kicking things off with the title track to his most recent album ‘World’s Strongest Man.’ Built on a swaggering, stripped-back riff, it escalates to incorporate the synth elements that run throughout the record. Everything is pulled together by Coombes’ haunting falsetto. it was a confident opener that set the tone for the rest of the night.
Things changed deftly from heavier tracks like the relentlessly catchy ‘Hot Fruit’ from his debut ‘Here Come The Bombs’ to quieter, piano-led pieces such as the self-reflective ‘Shit (I’ve Done It Again)’. There was a striking amount of variety from a solo artist with 3 albums’ worth of material to draw from.
When Coombes interacted with the crowd it was generally to ask how people were doing, a slightly self-conscious tic that underscores the introspective themes of his music. That isn’t to say he wasn’t enjoying himself, you can always tell right from the off if a band’s heart isn’t in their performance but his was front and centre.
In seemingly no time at all, the encore had rolled round and fans were trying to negotiate his promise of 3 more songs into 5. While they might not have gotten the quantity they were after, they weren’t shortchanged on quality and his closer, the title track from 2015’s critically acclaimed ‘Matador’ was easily one of the evening’s highlights.
All in all it was a great night of high calibre performances from both Gaz Coombes and his tremendous support Willie J Healey. Their enthusiasm for the craft almost made you forget there were two more days of graft until the weekend, almost.
PHOTOS: VICOTRIA WAI
WORDS: JOHN PATTERSON