LIVE REVIEW: Gaz Coombes, 6 Music Festival, The Sage Gateshead

SPORTING his trademark sideburns and an apt all-black wardrobe, former Supergrass singer Gaz Coombes’ appearance in Hall 1 injected the 6 Music Festival with a superb dose of noir, class and grandiose.

Having broken from his band in 2010, the Oxford artist is now emerging as a solo performer of style and ambition, with last month’s sophomore Matador an absolute shoo-in for end of year accolades, and perhaps even an award or two.

Indeed, while DJ Steve Lamacq introduced the 38-year-old as “one of the greatest songwriters of his generation,” there’s a growing sense this latest venture could be his finest to date - and judging by its heavy presence on tonight’s setlist, it seems Coombes himself is willing to concur.

With an expansive musical pallet and lyrics stretching from bleakness to sheer desperation, its material carries a markedly different tone to the anthemic Britpop with which he made his name, yet it’s a sound and approach he’s nailed to a tee.

The trippy rhythms and epic, longing choruses of 20/20, for instance, were truly remarkable, displaying both diversity and sophistication, along with the invigorating English Ruse and the widescreen melancholy of The Girl Who Fell To Earth.

The latter, in particular, is a song David Bowie could have penned at his peak, and if any in the crowd are yet to sample Matador’s marvels, this spectacular sample is sure to have elevated it to the very top of their wishlists.