Tag Archives: Cars Not Leaving

Listen: Gabriel Bruce – “Cars Not Leaving”

24 Jan

11. Gabriel Bruce at Victoria Dalston 28.02.12

Should you happen to be in or around Norwich right now, do not fear should you hear a strangled cry in the distance, it is just us jumping up and down and singing (out of tune) loudly. Yes, Alphabet Towers is a-rockin right now and is all down to Gabriel Bruce who has just released “Cars Not Leaving”; a big pop-rock song that we fell head over heels for when we saw Gabriel use it to close his Norwich Arts Centre set, and one of the best we heard at all last year.

Back then he was grooving along with his backing singers like he was starring in his own private version of Footloose and it certainly evokes memories of that era. It has the overindulgence and pop swagger of “Absolute Beginners” era Bowie, and the feel-good bounce and sax of all the best John Hughes soundtracks. It’s a finger snapping, leg bopping gem of a tune.

With his deep gravel, you’d forgive Bruce for engaging in dark and foreboding melodrama but it is this big and colourful poppy, rocky, funky, soul sound that he excels at. He is a truly compelling live act and here he has captured the energy and excitement that engulfs his shows. Full of big organ, sax and piano sounds, “Cars Not Leaving” is also blessed with what promises to be one of the year’s most infectious choruses, “Hold on now, just hold on a minute. This car’s not leaving if you’re not in it”, so simple and yet so damn good.

We can’t wait for an album but this will more than keep us going in the meantime.


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

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