Gabriels at Somerset House
It was a mature and sassy crowd that gathered at the picturesque Somerset House last night in woozy heat to see the American-English trio perform. Gabriels have been heavily lauded: they were declared BBC’s Sound of 2023 and have received rave reviews for their debut album Angels & Queens, which curiously arrived in two parts, the first last September and the second yesterday. The album parts are not distinct, rather, the second section blends its additions into the track listing of the first. Such has been their recent domination of the live circuit, it’s hard to believe they’ve had just one album out.
It’s not difficult to hear why Gabriels have exploded onto the scene: singer Jacob Lusk’s vocals are sublime and the songwriting uses swooning orchestration to create cinematic songs that already seem like standards. The music blends gospel, soul, RnB and jazz to create a sophisticated and complex sound.
Lusk arrived on stage in a tuxedo and a cape with a crimson lining that he used to swirl and prance. Ari Balouzian accompanied him on violin and other strings, with Ryan Hope on keys, alongside three backing singers and a drummer.
Songs like Blame and Angels & Queens showed off Lusk’s powerhouse, wide-ranging vocals. His voice is delicious, executing riffs and runs with such strength and precision, it was glorious to hear. They payed tribute to Tina Turner with a rendition of Private Dancer, showing footage on the backdrop of the icon dancing and clips from What’s Love Got to Do With It?, including Angela Bassett’s bloodied face. They then played Glory, which is perhaps an obvious tribute to Turner overcoming appalling abuse at the hands of her husband to become a global superstar: “Let me tell you a story / Of the girl left in glory / I might be down right now, but I / Make do with what I’ve got / In time no water into wine / But I make do with what I’ve got / I’ll make a little a lot.”
Following that was a very crowd-pleasing rendition of Soul II Soul’s Back to Life. The imagery on the screen showed a lot of TikTok foolishness, and so it seemed to be an entreaty to people to put down their phones and engage with real life. (During the performance, a fan was so involved in capturing a video of his friend dancing for likes that he backed up over the people around him without the merest notion of the irony. It seems self-awareness is in short supply these days!)
This was a great show in a beautiful setting, and Lusk’s voice rang out over the surrounding area. A treat for everyone.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit Gabriels’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Angels & Queens here: