'Gabriels stun Koko – superstardom seems inevitable'

Gabriels at Koko, June 21, 2022

Gabriels at Koko, June 21, 2022 - Credit: André Langlois

Gabriels
Koko, June 21, 2022
*****

There are some voices that when you hear them you wonder why anyone else bothers. Jacob Lusk from Gabriels has one such voice. 

Last year the band – a trio, although there are seven on stage – produced a classic radio hit Love and Hate in a Different Time. 

It’s a stomping, singalong, soul banger – and even more on stage at Koko on June 21. 

They are band early in their career, with just a few EPs to their name, but if worldwide acclaim doesn't follow then there's something [more] wrong with the world.

Lusk starts the show from one of the venue's refurbished boxes, appearing from nowhere to create a gothic soul tension. This is Innocence from the bloodline EP, the "lost" left unsaid in the title. It is a deep blues howl to a simple piano riff – stunning.

"Got what you deserved. It was all for thrill of it. Lying face down in the dirt, ain't love a hypocrite."

Jacob Lusk, opening Gabriels' Koko set from a box on June 21

Jacob Lusk, opening Gabriels' Koko set from a box on June 21 - Credit: André Langlois

But for all the beauty and sadness of the music,  when the singer bounds on stage he is revealed to be an exuberant bundle of LA enthusiasm.

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“You are all now members of Koko Missionary Baptist Church,” we're later told.

The range of his voice is matched by Gabriel's changing musical gears. At times the jazz exploration threaten to lose the audience, but the melodies and rhythms are irresistable. 

The melancholic Blame rides along on a perfect groove and is destined to be discovered for the classic it is when it appears on the right soundtrack.  

Bloodline itself is almost a pure jazz vocal performance, drawing woops as it takes off towards the end.

Gabriels at Koko, June 21, 2022

Gabriels at Koko, June 21, 2022 - Credit: André Langlois

Love and Hate, the big one, is everything you want it to be, and Gabriels are confident enough to kick into it mid set, rather than holding it for the encore.

That honour goes to Professional, with Lusk back in Billie and Nina mode, and a triumphant evening ends in redemption: "You were supposed to love me...I forgive you."

Gabriels followed the show by supporting Elton John in Hyde Park and making a Glastonbury debut, followed by a summer of festivals.

Without yet releasing an album, stardom seems inevitable.