Live reviews

REVIEW: Gabrielle Ducomble – Across the Bridge Album Launch at Pizza Express Holborn

Gabrielle Ducomble with Nicolas Meier at the launch
Photo by audience member courtesy of Gabrielle Ducomble

Gabrielle Ducombie – Across the Bridge Album Launch
(Pizza Express Live, Holborn. 23 September 2018. Review by Kate Delamere)

Belgian-born singer Gabrielle Ducomble proved she’s more than just a powerful voice that can take on jazz greats with the launch of her album Across the Bridge.

A popular performer with two albums under her belt of Parisian-style jazz and tango and a regular at top London jazz clubs to concert halls, she’s known for performing her own unique take on iconic songs from artists such as Piaf, Piazzolla, Legrand and Nougaro.

But at London’s Pizza Express Holborn venue on Sunday night (23 September) she revealed she’s a songwriter in her own right showcasing 12 show-stopping original compositions in the style of contemporary jazz, chansons, tango and Latin rhythms that told poignant and engaging stories reflecting on nature, art and social justice.

An enigmatic performer, she was accompanied by a band of musicians that looked as if they enjoyed themselves nearly as much as the audience – and that’s saying A LOT! It was difficult to pull my eyes away from violinist Richard Jones, who got other-worldly sounds out of his instrument that I’d never heard before and doubt will ever do again. Like a pied piper, he led the audience into paroxysms of frenzy with his fevered plucking, stroking and skimming. That boy should not be allowed out on his own late at night…

And he was in good company alongside guitarist Nicolas Meier, who effortlessly pulled off tricky compositions at times with wit and panache on a 12 string, and double bassist Nick Kacal who kept up a warm undulating and compelling rhythm on his double bass that allowed for solo diva flourishes by drummer Saleem Raman.

The band’s adept musical technique truly brought the images of nature in Gabrielle’s songs to life, in particular in her song Les Terrasses De Riz De Jatiluwih, that was inspired by her recent trip to Indonesia. The violin screamed as it emulated the sounds of swooping birds in distant climes, while the drums pulled us against our better judgement into an ocean’s angry surf, the bassist kept us buoyant in the swirling currents as guitarist Nick manoeuvred us back to the surface and safely back into Gabrielle’s slipstream.

Gabrielle and her band took us ‘across the bridge’ with uplifting tracks sung in English and French that included Forest Boy, a folk ballad that transported us back to the imagination of our childhood to The Time Is Now about protecting the environment, both with lyrics by Tamsin Collison. A more thought-provoking Where Is Home, was inspired by the global housing crisis and displacement of refugees, before Gabrielle helped soothe us from the horrors of the world with her tango-style Like A Bridge Across Your Heart.

Gabrielle’s petite frame belied a formidable voice that sang of the passionate cadences of love, and sparked tender moments between couples in the audience responding to the feelings behind her compositions. Indeed, many in the crowd barely took their eyes off her, so riveted were they, with some diners’ leaving their cutlery hanging mid-air as Gabrielle held us all transfixed in a moment in time where past and present melded into one.

Her voice resonated in parts of my body that I’d forgotten belonged to me, and her lyrics about childhood moments and past loves, sounded in my head long after people spilled out of the venue and back to their lives.

Gabrielle Ducomble recently said: “When I go on stage I want to make everyone feel uplifted…I’d like people to leave more peaceful and contented than when they arrived.” And Sunday night demonstrated loud and clear that she’s crossed her own bridge, from interpreting familiar repertoire to creating her own sound with poetry. And, just as importantly, she triumphantly carried the audience with her to the other side.

L-R: Nick Kacal, Richard Jones, Gabrielle Ducomble,
Saleem Raman, Nic Meier
Photo by audience member courtesy of Gabrielle Ducomble

Kate Delamere is a national journalist in TV, newspapers and magazines, and writes creatively for theatre, radio and print.

LINKS: Further Tour Dates at 

Interview feature about Across the Bridge

Categories: Live reviews

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