We are introduced to the show via the quaintly-named Gabberdashery, an in-house fete of cupcakes, vintage trinkets and quirky goods. Then, the stage comperes, Mayor and Reverend, preside over ‘Little Gabblington’, whipping up the crowd with Satsuma throwing, and off-the-cuff sketches. Gabby’s friends perform short sets before the main event, and a diverse crowd of her eager fans clap and cheer beneath Young’s home-made bunting.
The production is an elaborate, terrifically kooky affair – and that’s before Young takes the stage. We hope this might be a taste of what’s to come. We are not disappointed.
Young makes a spectacular entrance in ravishing feather head piece and florally-embellished dress. She beams and she bounces, and there’s a distinct carnival atmosphere in the air.
The launch of Young’s new album, The Band Called Out For More (Gift of the Gab), is a rollicking theatrical production, a mixed bag of show tunes and delicate hymns. Young, obtuse and divine, takes us on a music-of-ages-journey – and continents, too: Big Band, Latin, cabaret, gypsy swing and opera.
The stage swells with people, and as Young herself declares, it’s a zoo. A stampede is more fitting. The violinists, the brass band, the back-up singers with intricate face paintings: they are Young’s animals and the production becomes an increasingly surreal set piece. But the noise is not so much of cage beasts than a harmonious mengagerie. There is no choice but to be beguiled by the whole disorderly display.
Young’s performance is both majestic and playful, as she ploughs through all the new tracks off the new album, and dazzling especially in Horatio, Neither The Beginning Nor The End, and Male Version Of Me.
Old favourite We’re All In This Together, is woven into the encore, and by now I’m experiencing a kind of spiritual high. Never thought I’d find that in a zoo.
Photos: Gemm Hall