Gig Review: Gabriel Bruce, Norwich Arts Centre 05/12/12

6 Dec

11. Gabriel Bruce at Victoria Dalston 28.02.12

Every once in a while you come across a performer or a sound that appears out of nowhere and leaves you reeling like a kick in the balls, if a kick in the balls can ever be an amazing and spectacular experience. Tonight we are experiencing the magnificence of Gabriel Bruce for the first time and both performance and sound are knocking us off our feet.

The start is an inauspicious one with a mic that seemingly doesn’t work and Gabriel left mute as his church-organ sounds drone underneath the emptiness. The problem fixed and we are given our first taste of his deep, granular baritone, like Leonard Cohen calling us in for prayer as the organ plays on then boom, from nowhere we have a big poppy sound and the first of many collective steps back in amazement are taken by the audience.

From then on it is wall to wall incredible as Gabriel and his drummer are joined on stage by a dedicated keyboard player and two backing singers, both of whom are dressed in black and who evoke memories of The Commitments as they dance out their simple but oh-so effective dance routines. Like much of Gabriel’s set, such minute details enhance the performance immeasurably.

The sound is vast. These big, brash songs that are ringing out are incredible. There is soul, there is funk, there are horns, big choruses; there is even the feeling that this could all be a John Hughes soundtrack. He sings like Bowie, Cave, Cohen and Tears for Fears all rolled into one and performs in a way that an in-his-pomp James Brown would struggle with.

An echo effect kicks in on the mic between tracks as Gabriel is regaling us, “I feel like God” he says as his earthquake of a voice reverberates around the Arts Centre. He may feel like God but at times he resembles an evangelical preacher stirring his congregation as he implores us to ‘love one an other’. It’s a wonderful sentiment but the love in the room right now is directed at him.

‘This is a disco number’ he tell us. It’s not, not really. Donna Summer wouldn’t ever have performed something like this but it is groovy and Gabriel needs no excuse to move. He is into the crowd quick-smart embarrassing the girls and boys in the audience as he sings and dances to them, before leaping back onstage and embracing his singers at waist height. Their ability to sing on while stifling laughter is commendable.

All the while we stare, dumbfounded by this magnificent beast before us, flailing and cavorting around on-stage and singing some of the most wondrous old school pop music. All too soon the set concludes with the infectious “Cars Not Leaving”, complete with Footloosey, Breakfast Cluby style dancing from Gabriel and his backing singers. The crowd wants more but it is not to be. Leave them wanting more the old adage goes, we were desperate for it.

Photo Credit: Adam Shoesmith taken at The Victoria, Dalston, March 2012

One Response to “Gig Review: Gabriel Bruce, Norwich Arts Centre 05/12/12”

  1. name not supplied December 29, 2012 at 20:10 #

    oh maaaaaan, he sounds awesome, I would love to see him play

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