“ISN’T this a bit bloody lovely?” declared Gaz Coombes, admiring the Alasdair Gray mural-decorated Oran Mor auditorium. Certainly it was more salubrious than the kind of venue he used to play.
While many of Coombes’ Britpop peers are getting the old band back together to relive the glory days, the famously-hirsute former Supergrass frontman is enjoying a minor musical reinvention. This was the second date in a mini-tour of atmospheric church venues, and it saw the Oxford native perform aptly stately versions of songs from his 2012 debut solo album Here Come The Bombs, alongside a handful of newer and older material, all “catered to suit the acoustics and natural reverb of the buildings”.
Backed by a drummer and his brother Charly on keys and sampler, Coombes switched between acoustic guitar and piano, introducing his new, more pared-down and sensitive style most impressively with a pair of shimmering electronica ballads in The Girl Who Fell To Earth and the strikingly pretty One Of These Days. If those songs seemed far-removed from the kind of cheeky indie material with which he was once synonymous, Buffalo took things further away still, with its trip hop beat-driven verses and pocket Pink Floyd cosmic freak-out choruses.
A solo acoustic version of Supergrass’ much-loved early single Caught By The Fuzz was a collector’s item at encore, while Low C – from their 2005 acoustic album Road To Rouen – was an obvious linking point between the then and the now. Break The Silence proved a mighty resolve, with the audience rising to their feet both in celebration and ovation as its final dramatic piano chords came crashing down.