Live at The Scala


“Come and see Gabby Young and Other Animals”, my friend said, “You’ll love them.” What are they like? “Errr, they’re like a circus troupe, but don’t let that put you off!” An endorsemen

t like that can strike fear into the heart of man, but curiosity got the better of us, and we found ourselves at the launch party gig for ‘The Band Called Out More’, the second album from the batshit-mental ensemble fronted by the one and only Gabby Young. For the uninitiated, GY&OA can be an intense experience, a whirlwind of fun with myriad influences and a whole load of theatricalness.

The theme for the evening was that of a village fete, compered by a vicar and a mayor of the imaginary location, complete with stalls in the foyer (known as the Gabberdashery in homage to the eponymous frontwoman) selling vintage frocks, homemade accessories and fancy cupcakes. The gig space itself was festooned with bunting and paper lanterns, with flowers entwined around the drumkit and mic stands, adding to the carnival atmosphere. Support came from five acts, four singer-songwriters plus baroque chamber pop from Revere. Highlights were the charming Kat Flint and the striking Fiona Bevan with some very well crafted songs.

The crowd were here for only one reason though, and having now seen Gabby’s show it was clear why they were so excited. The core of the band is made up of around ten people but with some then dropping out, others coming in and instruments being passed around between them. At one point, there was at least 20 people on stage at once, each playing their own part. We’d be surprised if Gabby knows exactly how many animals her band comprises of.

Their look is unreal. Gabby looks like a Disney princess as designed by a five year old with ADHD and a big box of neon crayons. She’s a cross between Florence Welch and Carmen Miranda, scarlet hair under a headpiece of giant blue feathers and pearls and encircled by butterflies; so large that she struggles to get her guitar strap over it. Her dress is garish colours and her make up is theatrical, she looks a million dollars, but few could pull off this look.

The girls in the band wear spangly playsuits while the men appear at first glance to be inspired by Mumford and Sons, all flat caps, waistcoats and cream beige colours, until you realise that these are jumpsuits designed to look like folky countrywear. A classy touch.

The rainbow of Gabby’s outfit is reflected in her music too. Inspirations are drawn from all over the world, from 1930′s jazz with thundering cavalry drums and blaring brass, to Eastern European kooky folkiness akin to Regina Spektor, occasionally bordering on Gogol Bordello style Gypsy punk. She’s also a classically trained opera singer too, so there’s a touch of Sarah Brightman in there too with some astonishing vocal control, but all this is wrapped up in an incredible pop sheen that means it’s impossible not to spend the entire gig grinning at the sheer joy of it.

Their enthusiasm is infectious and every performer on stage looked like they were having a ball. Gabby’s charisma lights up the room, she’s a proper old fashioned pop star with bags of personality, bounding shoeless around the stage like there’s a Ritalin shortage. The band are characters too, but clearly highly skilled. Instruments used include guitar, piano, violins, cello, double bass, trumpet, trombones, tuba, banjo, toy pianos, xylophones, clarinet, accordion, drums, melodica and a harp, with most of the band playing a variety of these. The support acts all return to form a choir for a handful of songs, turning them from wistful folk or bouncy pop into full-on epics with a cast of (virtually) thousands.

It’s a kaleidoscope of colour and fun and feels like going to a proper English country church fete after consuming the contents of Wayne Coyne’s medicine cabinet. Having played the new album in full, the band return to play some old classics too, wrapping up a very successful launch, judging by the reaction of the crowd. The fact that she is not yet massively well known and headlining festivals is criminal. Spread the word, tell your friends. They may look like a circus troupe, but don’t let that put you off!


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