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Live Review: Gabrielle – 31st October 2023 – Royal Albert Hall, London, UK

5 min read

Throughout the course of the last 30 years British singer Gabrielle has been delivering some of music’s most successful soul-scented pop hits. Though the singer should never be confused as a soul queen. “I’m leaving that to the real queens of Soul who are deserving of that title”, she told a roaring crowd at her magical Royal Albert Hall homecoming show on Tuesday night as she played through a set of songs laced in soul, pop and even grinding her way through some meaty, guitar-led alternative new additions that take up residence on her upcoming studio album.

Throughout the 90’s the Hackney born powerhouse provided the charts with a plethora of hits that helps shape the UK’s female singer-songwriter movement and its ger remarkable catalogue and career as one of the UK’s most successful hitmakers that is being held under the spotlight as she currently enjoys a trek around the country on her 30 Years and Dreaming tour with a homecoming stop at the regal, Royal Albert Hall.

Dressed in a stunning full length black coat, heels of a dizzying height and with her hair draped in signature style over half of her face and flowing down her side, the singer brought sheer elegance and her humble nature to an already grandeur Royal Albert Hall stage; stepping out to open the show with Thank You.

It wasn’t long before everyone in the venue were up on their feet and getting well into the show. This was also encouraged by Gabrielle who asked the crowd to ‘shake their toosh’ as she dove into career highlights like the upbeat When a Woman, a roaring crowd singalong of Sunshine, an acoustic guitar driven rendition of Don’t Need The Sun To Shine and the swaying Give Me a Little More Time with the singer telling the crowd “I was pregnant with my son when I wrote this song” and giving a loving glance toward him as he watched his mother proudly from the seated side section of the stage.

Despite seemingly having trouble with her throat from time to time as she took a moment here and there to recalibrate, she delivered some of the most gorgeous vocals we have heard in the Royal Albert Hall. In fact, whether or not it could be attributed to her confidence growing as each song was performed, her voice seemed to get stronger and richer as the night went on. A moment off stage for what she humorously described as “a menopausal pat down” allowed her to catch her breath and let her impressive backing singer duo – both dressed in matching black velvet knee length dresses and boasting phenomenal voices – to get the crowd worked up with covers of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Ultra Nate’s Free.

With a brand-new studio album on its way in the shape of A Place In Your Heart set for Spring 2024, new songs were introduced to the crowd with Sorry, Miss You and the album title track carrying the signature lyrical optimism that Gabrielle has become as symbolic for as her former eye-patch. While A Place In Your Heart was grounded in much more alternative-pop terrain- “I’m a bit of a pop tart”, Gabrielle told the crowd before offering up the track – Miss You and Sorry were performed in a more stripped back style which allowed for the singers vocals to really shine and fill up the Royal Albert Hall.

A sit-down with her band ushered in a sweet acoustic section where Gabrielle offered beautiful performances of Burt Bacharach’s Walk On By – much to the crowds approval Shine and Young And Crazy before unleashing what I considered the highlight performance of the night with Rise; her voice by this point as strong as ever as she sang the hit with pure conviction and emotion – her singers complimenting the massive career hit with soothing gospel tones.

After a short off stage moment she returned to perform a stunning encore of Bridget Jones’ Diary hit Out of Reach and of course a Gabrielle concert would not be the same without Dreams. With everyone on their feet and dancing along to the Mobo award winning superstar, nostalgia flooded the Royal Albert Hall as she offered us a pitch perfect and passionately performed rendition of her mega-breakthrough hit before bowing out, thanking the audience, and exiting the stage to a thunderous applause from her devoted fans.

This was as grand a homecoming show as you could get and a show that I’m sure Gabrielle will hold dear to her heart – as much as her fans in attendance will. Her performance carried a casual and genuinely ‘real’ feel to it despite being within the settings of one of the UK’s most formal venues. Despite being a pop superstar, breaking off an occasional nail, flinging a silver bracelet across the stage and doting on her son that was watching from the sidelines of the show provided her solid gold set with a humble stage presence – nothing seemed rehearsed or scripted. This was Gabrielle at her most raw. At her most sincere. An absolute superstar in her finest hour!

Setlist:
Thank You
When a Woman
Give Me a Little More Time
Sunshine
Don’t Need The Sun To Shine
Fallen Angel
Place In Your Heart
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston cover)
Free (Ultra Naté cover)
Teardrops (Womack & Womack cover)
If You Ever
Miss You
Sorry
Walk on By
Shine
Young and Crazy
Rise

Encore:
Out of Reach
Dreams