Review + Photography by John McEvoy

The spectacular venue otherwise known as Leeds Town Hall gave a capacity crowd warm welcome to Gabrielle who was calling in on Saturday night as part of her 10 date ‘Under my Skin’ tour following the release late last year of her 6th studio album of the same name. It would be fair to say that both she and the crowd enjoyed every minute of it…

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Unusually there were two support acts tonight and it’s here I must apologise as due to traffic issues I missed the first support act AMiR completely. Who by all accounts delivered a short but enjoyable dance orientated set with just his vocals and a backing track.

Sorry I missed you AmiR!

Second up was a guy called Jahméne, who I was reliably informed, had been a contestant on the X Factor a few years ago. I am sceptical to say the least of these talent shows, hence the reason I had no idea who he was initially, however I will say that his voice is something rather special. His cover version of Whitney Houstons ‘Saving all my love’ was utterly stunning. Curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out who had beaten him in the X Factor, turns out it was James Arthur! Make of that what you will, but I have to say that in terms of pure vocal quality this guy has it in bucket loads. Given the right break this is a name you may be seeing more of in the future if tonight 30 minute set was anything to go by.

Jahmene

London born Louisa Gabrielle Bobb has been working since 1993 when she released her debut single ‘Dreams’ and the intervening 26 years have seen her release 6 albums and a further 4 compilation albums with her most recent outing ‘Under My Skin’. During this time she has also deservedly won several awards, notably Mobo and Ivor Novello for her output, and she continues to be an influential R&B artist at the top of her game.

And so it was that bang on 9:00pm on walked Gabrielle to be greeted by a packed venue, and a hysterical VIP section who appeared proceeded to spend most of the evening concentrating on getting themselves a selfie with Gabrielle on stage in the back ground rather than actually enjoying the gig!

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Opening tracks ‘Thank You’ and ‘Show Me’ from her new album with their distinctive Motown feel set the tone for the evening with the all seater venue immediately getting to their feet for the rest of the night. The years have been kind to Gabrielle and her voice is still is strong and vibrant as ever. The two talented young backing singers augmented the sound perfectly and a tight 4 piece band were bang on the money.

It wasn’t long before the aisles were full of people dancing as soon as she went into ‘When a Woman’ kicked in. 30 years since its release, this track still sounded as fresh as ever. This was quickly followed by ‘Give me a little More Time’ which underlined the strength of this ladies back catalogue.

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Gabrielle likes to chat, and she did this in abundance throughout the evening, relating personal stories and events and along with the rest of the band she was clearly enjoying herself. It’s always nice to see this in a performer as I’ve seen too many who seem to just go through the motions.

Mid way through the set, she stepped off stage to give her backing singers and band to take centre stage and their version of Sister Sledges ‘Thinking Of You’ was just one of the many highlights of the evening.

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7 tracks from the new album made up the spine of this gig tonight and all were well received by the Leeds crowd. ‘Put Up A fight’ was for me the standout track although to be fair with its earworm chorus it was an obvious choice. Things slowed down slightly with ‘Breath’ which had an almost gospel feel to it and again featured some great vocal harmonies. Things are clearly all good in the world of Gabrielle, and new material, and her new album is well worth looking up for yourselves.

Of course Leeds expected some of her classics and they weren’t to be disappointed, ‘Rise’ and ‘Out Of Reach’ brought the house down. The selfie brigade went into over drive at this point, and naturally enough proceedings were brought to close with ‘Dreams’ which sounded as good as ever and with that Gabrielle exited the stage as the band played the last few bars.

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It was a genuine pleasure to attend this gig tonight, Gabrielle is still very much at the top of her game and long may that continue.

Set list:

Thank You
Show Me
When A Woman
Give Me A Little More Time
Sunshine
Under My Skin
Put Up A Fight
Teardrops
Breath
Every Step
Like I Loved You
Young And Crazy
Rise
Shine
Out Of Reach
Dreams

Gabrielle Band

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