On Saturday 24th October, The Moon Club in Cardiff saw a rare sight: the now legendary guitar playing of singer-songwriter Jon Gomm. Eclipsing all other shining stars, who have emerged onto the black-as-night stage since his last appearance in 2013, Jon helped his wide-eyed followers find some light in the darkness.

Seeing Jon Gomm play Live is a must for a number of reasons. I could easily describe his eight-finger tapping techniques, percussive guitar hits, simultaneous bass/chord/melody playing, soaring vocal range and mid-song harmonic re-tuning.


I could tell you how he makes a whole band come out of a single voice box and one, well-battered, acoustic guitar. Or I could save time and tell you to click the YouTube link. But what you would miss online that you get live is the joy, confusion, admiration, disbelief and exhilaration of seeing and hearing something your eyes and ears can barely believe. Which works for me, I'm over 6 feet tall. But my fiancée is 5"2' and I made sure she didn't hear a single track or watch one video clip before her first live experience.


In a diverse audience of people, ranging from the thick-set Merthyr men to spindly hipster students to dreadlocked Rastafarians, it is remarkable that they all have one thing in common - height. Some shorter ladies had the sense to give the gig a suitably homely feel and sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the small stage. Others had been to see Jon the previous night in Ebbw Vale and knew just what to expect.

At various points Kate asked if he were using a loop-pedal or did he have a backing track. Jon does seem to somehow take the guitar beyond self-accompanying and into self-opposing.

I have a further advantage beyond that of height - familiarity. I was lucky enough to be around Jon in the early years of his solo career in Leeds when he first started to combine the various extended techniques - 'gimmicks' as I once heard him describe them with typical Lancashirian wit - into a unique performance style.

But what has changed in the years since I saw him last, is the intensity of a Jon Gomm gig. Years of a touring schedule that is increasingly more global has served in giving Jon brilliant anecdotes and strengthening his political resolve. At the end of the show audience members hug the musician off-stage, saying how much it means to them to see him live, how much it means to see someone who stands for something.


The night before, a fan told Jon what his favourite lyric was and revealed a tattoo of it on his arm.

The truth is Jon Gomm makes incredible Music out of the sort of sounds that most acoustic guitarists make by mistake, get quickly embarrassed by and vow to never do on stage ever again. At various points, most noticeably during his exquisite instrumental Wukan Motorcycle Kid, Jon came away from the mic to show us exactly how it was done and then even the affianced and diminutive could see his hands at work.


Catch him on tour from Southampton to Shanghai to see for yourself.

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