Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Gently Tender at the Omeara

Gently Tender at the Omeara last week was one of those joyous occasions where band and crowd are united in unbridled dedication to enjoying the night.

Gently Tender are a band born from the ashes of once next-big-things, The Palma Violets, and benefiting hugely from the keyboards and vocals of The Big Moon’s, Celia Archer. So this is a band with some pedigree and yet the celebratory mood was of a new band, proudly introducing their first album.

Certainly there was a sizeable chunk of the sold-out crowd packed into the under-the-arches cellar of the Omeara that seemed to be family and friends, greeting every song with raucous appreciation and a full-hearted singalong.

When I last saw Gently Tender a few years ago it was enchanting but it felt like a band still forming. Sam Fryer’s powerful baritone gave every song an intensity, and ‘Avez-Vous Deja?’ stood out as single material, as it did again as the closing song of the Omeara set, but there was clearly a lot more to come.

Now we know what that is and it’s great – beautiful, hugging songs ruminating on life and death and love for everyone. Produced by Matthew E. White, the album has plenty of touches of his Muscle Shoals-esque brass. I thought I detected a bit of Tango in the Night era Fleetwood Mac too, on Sunlight in Motion.

The Omeara is pretty tiny – maybe 200 capacity in a tunnel like room dressed in the style of a distressed 1920s cinema, whose arched stage was mostly back-lit, making the band a somewhat ethereal presence. Gently Tender’s anthemic sound didn’t just fill the venue, but enveloped the audience. With an album called ‘Take Hold of Your Promise!’, it felt like Gently Tender are very much taking their own advice. Highly recommended.

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