First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2008, Volume 15, #3
Written by John Metzger
Sun March 23, 2008, 08:10 AM CDT
Over the course of several studio albums, Anthony Gomes has made it clear that he has a lot of ideas about what he wants to do with his work. To put it simply, heís far from content with being known merely as a blues artist. Nevertheless, he also hasnít yet figured out how to finesse his way through the sort of sophisticated textures that he wants to deploy on his recordings. With age, experience, and maturity, he likely will blossom in the not too distant future. In the meantime, his brawny, impassioned concerts will have to suffice.
In this regard, Gomesí latest effort Live goes a long way toward fulfilling the hype that typically has surrounded him. Recorded on a single night at Seattleís Triple Door in February 2007, the collection takes stock of the singer/songwriter/guitaristís career to date, and judging by how superbly Gomes delivers his material, itís fair to say that he has begun to grow into his wide-sweeping ambitions. Where many like-minded endeavors from artists who are struggling to find their voices have a tendency to be filled with outrageous, over-the-top guitar solos ó none of which usually seem to translate well from the stage to a home environment ó Live finds a happy middle ground. In essence, Gomes and his backing band leave themselves enough room to explore their material without succumbing to ridiculous displays of showboating.
At the same time, though, itís obvious that Gomes still hasnít put all of the pieces into place. With its slowly simmering gait, When the Right Woman Does You Wrong was one of the highlights of his otherwise mediocre outing Music Is the Medicine. In concert, however, the tune fails to take flight, at least until Gomes backs away from the microphone and focuses entirely upon playing his guitar. The solo that he unleashes is understated, quiet, and lyrical, and it packs a range of emotion that compensates for his tepid vocal performance. Gomesí underwhelming singing style also diminishes an otherwise convincing cover of Led Zeppelinís Heartbreaker, though to be fair, itís not easy to compete with Robert Plant.
The rest of Live fares better, if only because there is less of a reason for Gomesí voice to carry his songs. Running the gamut from the funky strains of Bluebird to the U2-inspired Falling, Gomes finds ways of retaining the dimensionality of his studio work without losing the forcefulness that has made him a favorite among blues fans. Throughout the set, keyboard player Todd Hamric playfully tucks into the arrangements hints of classic rock outfits like the Spencer Davis Group and The Doors, but mostly Gomes and his band sound like a heavy metal incarnation of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble. Ferociously attacking the material, Gomes threads his live-wire lead through the propulsive rhythmic chug of Up 2 Zero as well as the thrashing, elastic funk of Music Is the Medicine. The results, more often than not, are positively exhilarating. Ĺ
Live is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box