Gabrielle Aplin at The Academy (review & photos)

MTV’s “Brand New for 2013” artist, Gabrielle Aplin, took to The Academy stage in Dublin, on April 5th for the last night of her UK & Ireland headline tour.

Suffering from a severe case of laryngitis, Gabrielle was told to cancel the show twenty minutes before stage time. Gabrielle refused, due to the already packed out floor at The Academy and emerged on stage armed with a cup of tea and a band willing to do anything to aid her.

Restricted to a rather raspy low register, Gabrielle Aplin begins by asking the crowd to sing along with her and refers to her own gig as “the worst gig ever”. What she doesn’t know is that the following hour-long set will turn out to be anything but. The atmosphere of the Academy crowd is more than welcoming for the twenty year old singer songwriter from Sutton Benger, Wiltshire.

Gabrielle’s second song of the set is “How Do You Feel Today?” a rather apt one, with Gabrielle battling through her illness. For her third song, “Salvation”, she asks the crowd to sing the high notes, as due to her laryngitis, her usually dulcet voice, absolutely disappears when she attempts anything in a higher octave. What can only be described as hardcore fans come to her aid. The crowd are by far, the best sounding audience I have ever had the pleasure of coming across. Rather than the usually shouting screaming of gig attendees, they sing in unison, with sweet tones that would usually perfectly match the outstanding vocals of Gabrielle herself. This potentially has something to do with the fact that half of the Dublin singer songwriter scene is milling around the audience tonight, including Orla Gartland and a more than concerned looking other half of Gabrielle, Alfie of Hudson Taylor.

While taking a moment between songs to tune her guitar, Gabrielle brings a lady whom she refers to as “her Irish mum” to join her onstage and leads the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday for the unsuspecting mother of Alfie & Harry from Irish band Hudson Taylor. The song to follow is one which Gabrielle is due to sing solo, with the entirety of her band leaving her to take the stage alone. The song is Rings Around Roses and again, the crowd don’t fail to deliver. Tadhg, a member of Hudson Taylor and one of Gabrielle’s band members for the night, emerges on stage midway through to Gabrielle’s surprise to add in a beautiful violin accompaniment. Impressively, having never played the song together, the accompaniment works splendidly, making Rings Around Roses a more powerful song than usual.

The next song in her setlist, her cover of “The Power of Love” reached the top of UK singles charts last December. Unable to sing the majority of this song due to illness, the duty falls on one very lucky audience member. Bearing a sign reading “Can I sing with you?”, 17 year old Aoife Doyle was requested by Gabrielle to join her on stage. Speaking to Dublin after the gig, Aoife admits that she has very little experience on a live stage, with only a few original songs on her Youtube channel. Quite apt that is be a young Youtube singer that joins Gabrielle onstage, seeing as this is where Aplin gained her initial following herself. After the first voice, having realized that this unsuspecting teenager can actually sing, and sing well, Gabrielle leaves the teenager to take centre stage alone, sitting herself at a keyboard to add in another unprecedented accompaniment for the night. With the final and powerful drop in the track pulled off flawlessly by the teenager, with the aid of Gabrielle, the teenager leaves to stage to outrageous applause. Young Aoife proves herself more than worthy of the opportunity with Gabrielle afterwards commenting that Aoife “made me look like sh*t!”

Gabrielle and her band then launch into a dance they’ve made up to accompany her song “Keep Pushing Me”, not letting illness get them down, the band fully launch into an energetic and truly enjoyable rendition of the song. Next to join Gabrielle on stage is Dublin singer songwriter Orla Gartland, and Welsh support act for the night, Hannah Grace. Both highly impressive songstresses, they join Gabrielle for her critically acclaimed single “Please Don’t Say You Love Me”. A song finally in a lower register, Gabrielle proves herself vocally despite illness. Even with the unavoidable raspy tones in her voice, it is undeniable that this young woman is one with an incredible voice and an incredible spirit.

Gabrielle thanks the audience for making her “feel so at home” at a gig that she was medically advised not to do. Throughout the night, Gabrielle proves herself as an artist, with an invincible spirit and enthusiasm. It also reveals that Gabrielle should not only be known for her vocal skills, but that she is also a beautiful singer songwriter, with songs that carry lyrical weight that usually is not associated with such young woman and furthermore a wonderful guitarist with enthralling chord progressions.

For her final song, Gabrielle finds herself now surrounded by her band and flanked on either side by Hannah Grace, Orla Gartland and Harry & Alfie of Hudson Taylor. The group vocals, consisting of 8 onstage vocalists and an impressively enthusiastic crowd turned the song “Home” into something much more powerful and hard hitting than it’s studio recording.

The night proves more than successful much to Gabrielle’s surprise. She commented to Dublin Concerts via twitter that “They were absolutely incredible [the crowd]” and that she “wouldn’t have got through it without such lovely people”. Gabrielle’s skill is much more than her voice and it was truly an experience to witness a concert by a near voiceless artist, turn into such a memorable night.

Gabrielle Aplin’s much anticipated debut album “English Rain” is due to be released on May 13th of this year and is surely one not to be overlooked.

Review by Laur Ryan

Photos by Chris Charousset


Lucy Ivan

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