For the last few days in Cheltenham it has been the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The festival this year saw the like of Dionne Warwick, Laura Mvula, Lianne La Havas and yesterday on the final day I saw Gabby Young & Other Animals. The UK eight-piece band, which give a circus-like performance with some gypsy, folk, rock and jazz music, were performing in the Big Top – the main stage. I don’t want to write too much because you may get bored reading the whole review because of my writing blah blah blah so here goes. The band was awesome. Straightaway, they got everyone nodding their heads, tapping their feet and wanting to dance to the eccentric music. Most of their tracks (from their 2012 album The Band Called Out For More) were very jazzy and alive, – as if was the dangerous motorbike in a cage act or a jump through a hoop of fire act – and some were calm yet also very powerful – like a ballet tightrope act or a highly excellent trapeze act.
Gabby Young, the front singer, has an amazing voice and huge talent and boy can she hit those high notes. But it wasn’t just her voice that made the whole performance spectacular, nor was it the fact that there were a variety of instruments being played and the band acting as one; it was because they invited the audience to join in. The band wanted everyone to get up and dance and sing with them. In the track Horatio they split the audience in half and got the left to when instructed by one band member to sing “Ho!” whilst the other side with another band member had to sing “Ha!” – I was on the “Ha!” side with the trumpet player. The band made the audience participation as a competition, egging everyone to get involved and it worked. This was the hilarious clown act if it was a circus.
In one track they brought an audience member on stage during the song and got him to blew through the tube so one of the band members could play the melodica (like a keyboard). Below is one of my favourite tracks they performed and on their latest album, which yes I did buy after seeing them. It’s definitely a swift and smooth trapeze act high up in the sky away from everyone else – beautiful and French-Paris sound.
Overall, the performance was amazing and I would gladly see them again – it seems because of the audience interaction it would be different every time. And because of the audience participation the performance wasn’t just an ordinal performance it was unique and was in fact an experience. One I won’t forget. And whether you are a fan of jazz or not, you will love them.
Here are some more of their songs: