Return of The Bruce

22 Jun

It was Thursday night and for once I had somewhere to go. Beneath the identikit Shoreditch-isms of Old Street’s Electricity Showrooms lies the best disco lighting this side of 1979, which last night, if you’ll allow me to throw irony to the wind for a moment, played host to London’s hottest ticket: mesdames et messieurs, allow me to present the inimitable Gabriel Bruce. Not that he needs any presenting, mind… his show is Iggy Pop-goes-karaoke, and his songs have more charisma in their first few milliseconds than Radiohead managed in twenty years. Yeah, I know the metaphor doesn’t work, but I drank too much cider and danced too badly for too long last night to write straight today.

I’ve got myself into a muddle here: what I want to stress is that watching him on stage (or indeed on flashing dancefloor) makes you wonder why he hasn’t already become a household name. He’s earnest without being the slightest bit embarrassing, and he’s very, very good at writing songs. You can hear the influences, of course, but they’re the right sort- Cohen, Cave, Cassavetes and, less alliteratively (but possibly more importantly), the music contains a healthy dose of Serge Gainsbourg. What’s more, he has the voice to pull it off- and then some. He sounds like a crooner who bought his mortgage off the devil, and if you like that simile, I can only say that you’re going to like his album even more.

My point is that Gabriel is playing a summer residency at these Electricity Showrooms, and if you’re in the Greater London area and have nothing to do on Thursday the 5th of July, you’d have to be either extremely ill or semi-criminal not to get up to Barleyville to see him. Support comes from the bafflingly terrific Rowan Martin, a guy who looks like he should be playing weedy folk-pop but has somehow been possessed by the soul of Prince. I heard ecstatic ramblings coming from all directions at the end of the evening: ‘It’s a post-ironic extravaganza!’ cried someone who I swear to god wasn’t me, but might as well have been. One listen to Gabe’s extraordinary, I’m Your Man-indebted track Zoe and I guarantee you’ll see what they were on about.

Gabriel also has an EP out, which you can listen to here, or even buy here, which you should, because it’s ace and he currently can’t afford a backing band.

I’m off to Marseille for a bit. À la prochaine…

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