Gabby Young & Other Animals at New Greenham Arts on Saturday, February 9. 2013
THE GENRE purveyed - and arguably invented - by Gabby Young is described as Circus Swing; and while this comes from its gypsy-style musical roots (a heady mix of Eastern European and English folk, with a hefty dose of swing jazz), Young’s stunning visual appearance and the party mood provided by her performance brings all the fun of the big top to the stage. If you visited Gifford’s Circus during its summer sojourn in Victoria Park, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
The “Other Animals” menagerie was stripped down to a trio for Young’s sell-out New Greenham New Folk performance, with Young’s powerful classically-trained voice being accompanied by guitarist and pianist (and partner) Stephen Ellis, and violinist Milly McGregor. It may have been a small gathering of musicians, but the sound was anything but stripped down - who needs a brass section when you’ve got kazoos?
Wiltshire-born Young’s flamboyant visual persona has received media attention, and she has fun with it - she has her own internet boutique, called Gabberdashery, and a previous tour saw the Other Animals performing in her favourite vintage clothes shops. The band’s on stage party mood is irresistible, and they soon had the seated audience singing, clapping and stomping along, bringing a summer festival mood to the New Greenham auditorium on a February evening.
Young’s songs are strong and beautiful, and unlike some funtime festival bands, they transfer perfectly to album (the other animals have released two to date; with 2012’s And The Band Called For More being contained in a stunning petal-fold sleeve, worth the money alone purely for presentation). Not all songs are upbeat party numbers, and many appear to be very personal in their sentiment, but all are performed in Young’s powerful yet velvet-smooth voice that grabs and holds you from beginning to end. Think of Florence & The Machine with a sense of humour, and you’re halfway there.
A gorgeous treat for at least two of the senses, Gabby Young & Other Animals are a must-see if they pop up at any festival you might be at this summer. And certainly grab your tickets quickly if Young visits these parts again. I’m hoping that next time, she brings enough kazoos for the entire audience.
- First published in the Newbury Weekly News on February 14, 2013