Saturday 30th March 2019 at Leeds Town Hall.
‘Sunshine through my window, that’s what you are…’ sings the voice of my teens and along with a sold out audience, I’m in the best possible Saturday night mood.
So Gabrielle is back, bodacious and brilliant. Her latest album Under My Skin shares the stage with her past hits 40/60 and the whole thing is pitched as a feel-good nostalgic party where everyone is encouraged to sing along to their heart’s content.
Leeds audiences tend to be an enthusiastic bunch and this particular audience welcomed this soulful songstress with roaring applause after pretty much every song, with Sunshine, When a Woman, Out of Reach and Dreams bringing the house down. A perfect recipe for a party atmosphere.
Tracks from her new album are delivered with the same power and unmistakeable Gabrielle tones, with the title track, Under My Skin, Put Up a Fight and my personal favourite Every Step sounding bloody brilliant.
Patter between songs is quite minimal but the ad libs and introductions Gabrielle does offer smack of warmth, wisdom and very entertaining sass. This is a show all about the songs and there’s little fuss – no change of costume, no choreography; just the woman herself, her fired up band and backers and her beautifully written and performed songs.
She tells us of friends getting advice via an album track when they won’t listen over a cuppa and how she’s generally a bit of a rebel (proven with a trip into the audience to hype the only seated audience members to get to their feet, leaving stage crew scrambling to give her a way back up onto the stage).
And the voice? Gorgeous. That distinctive Gabrielle depth and soul have been preserved in amber it seems, and although she sidesteps high notes, letting her talented back up singers step in, there’s no magic lost.
Support acts are the talented Amir and Jahméne. Amir’s sound is very R&B, funky and energetic while Jahméne delivers miraculous vocals without so much as a forehead creased with effort. Both hype the crowd very nicely, but Jahméne is in a league of his own, with such soul and high notes owning a Whitney classic in a way so few can achieve. I’d have loved to see him duet with Gabrielle – I can’t have been the only one wishing he’d appear again for the hit with East 17: If You Ever.
A Gabrielle concert is a great night out. She gives the impression of having the time of her life on stage and actively encourages her audience to ‘treat this like a party’, telling us ‘tonight is all about you’ and do you know? I think she really means that. She connects with her fans sincerely and somehow manages to seamlessly allow eager fans to snap a quick selfie between or during songs so graciously that it feels like a great big love fest.
There were seats, yes, but they didn’t get many backsides on them – this audience were firmly on their feet for the duration. ‘Now is the time…’ she sings, and she’s right, as usual. Highly recommended.
Gabrielle continues to tour and is set to bring a special kind of nostalgic buzz to the masses until April 5th 2019. You can find information on venues and dates here. Side note: Leeds Town Hall has plenty more music events in the calendar so take a look at listings here.
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