Live Review
Gabriel Bruce
The Old Queens Head
Islington, London

Photography by Adam Shoesmith

Tonight feels like that episode of Made In Chelsea where a vampire turns up and Spencer loses his shit. You know the one – the ‘indie’ one, in a pub rather than a bistro off the King’s Road. That is to say that tonight’s audience is impossibly good looking, young-but-not-kids, all swept back hair and Hugh Grant glasses, and that in front of them is the gaunt-faced, Count-ish Gabriel Bruce, baritone booming, ladies blouse on, seducing to the furthest corners of the room. From his opening, baroque take on Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid’, everyone, posh and otherwise, is impressed to say the least, and so we should be – Bruce is an incredible entertainer, along the lines of a less spoilt Patrick Wolf doing Simple Minds; a budding Nick Cave flirting with spooky pop music, with a skeletal band of 3 – two female backing singers in matching outfits and hand gestures, and some guy on a laptop and keyboard.

Bruce himself sings but also dances, and his dancing is as important to his spell as macabre tracks like ‘Sleep Paralysis’ and how deeply he croons them out. He moves not like nobody’s watching, but rather like everyone is, starting with awkward, daddish sidesteps and erupting into violent, off-beat shape-pulling. He ends with what seems to be his ‘Dancing In The Dark’. Spencer and everyone furiously cheer, especially as a dance routine with Bruce’s singers breaks out. You should see this guy.

By Stuart Stubbs

Originally published in issue 38 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. May 2012