Review: Gabby Young at Colston Hall by Lee Callaway 9/10
AT the age of 12, Gabby Young was the youngest recruit to the National Youth Choir and on track to become an opera singer. That changed when she heard the music of the late Jeff Buckley and the jazz greats and began recording her own music in her bedroom. She formed Gabby Young and Other Animals in 2008 with funding for their debut album from fans. It brought them national attention and the release of We're All in This Together in 2009 saw them reach the top of the Amazon charts
The kind of music the band play, which they've described rather pithily as circus swing, is loud, anarchic, and with a sense that the musicians are barely in control of their own instruments. They wear their swing influences on their sleeves clearly, using brass instruments and a double bass, but there's the influence of world music too, with shades of both Eastern Europe and Latin America appearing at certain points.
On top of that is Gabby Young's soaring vocals, superficially similar to someone like Annie Lennox, which betrays her juvenile operatic leanings.
She's also a genuinely eccentric onstage presence, donning a party dress, with her hair dyed red and carrying a striped walking cane that in no way seems affected, practiced, or forced on to her by a record executive. Coupled with their penchant for involving the crowd, or as they call it, "bringing out the animal in you," the atmosphere in the Colston Hall was ebullient and joyful.
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Gabby Young and Other Animals are true originals, delightfully chaotic and immensely enjoyable.