By all rights, there should have been an air of desperation or defeat around English band Gomez at the House of Blues on Monday. More than six years after winning Britain's Mercury Music Prize for its debut album, "Bring It On," the group has had little impact in record sales, with four full albums plus other collections, and now is without a recording contract.
Instead, this was an act at the top of its game, at once daring and playfully inviting -- and with rabidly adoring fans embracing every note of this first of two sold-out nights at the West Hollywood club.
The simplest description of Gomez is Oasis meets Pearl Jam with some blues roots. But that sells short the inventive spark and reach, all embodied in the rotation of three terrific, distinctive lead singers. Ben Ottewell's bluesy Eddie Vedder-like growl is the most recognizable feature, while Ian Ball offers bite, recalling Oasis' Liam Gallagher, and Tom Gray has a McCartney-like purity. On Monday the music ranged from a version of Tom Waits' gritty "Going Out West" to the tricky, flamenco-tinged mini-suite "Las Vegas Dealer" to Gray's peppy, '60s-ish encore "Silence," a highlight of last year's "Split the Difference" album.
The real attraction was how the band managed to make those disparate elements hang together. When, in "We Don't Know Where We're Going," Gray sang "but we're going a long way," it sounded like a confident credo.