It’s a very exciting time for Gabriels. This is only the Anglo-American trio’s second stint at Glastonbury, having previously wowed audiences on the Park Stage last summer. Their ascent since has been a remarkable one. High on the critical acclaim of their 2022 debut album, Angels & Queens, the group have bagged BRIT and Sound Of nominations, and even found a fanboy in Sir Elton himself.
All of which is to say that expectations are sky high as they head to the West Holts stage for round two on Worthy Farm. Their unique blend of gospel and soul is quite unlike anything else on the line-up. Taking to the stage in a black hooded cloak concealing a Catholic schoolgirl-style uniform, lead singer Jacob Lusk instantly commanded the audience’s attention.
“Glastonbury how are you feeling baby?”, bellows the preacher-like Lusk as he released his cape and the band launched into the funk-soaked ‘Angels & Queens’ and ‘Taboo’. “Taboo, I’d risk it all for you,” he sings, before breaking out into a series of comedic don’t-f*ck-with-me karate chops. Cooling off with the swooping ‘Blame’, Lusk’s pitch-perfect vocals are given a moment to truly shine with the complimentary orchestral backing arrangement. An unexpected highlight also comes in the form of a cover of the late-Tina Turner’s Private Dancer. It’s a fitting, albeit short, tribute to the rock ‘n’ roll legend.
There’s something to be said about Lusk’s bewitching stage presence too. Like a minister to his congregation, mid-set, the singer welcomes the crowd at West Holts into the religion of Gabriels. “There are a lot of invitations, all you need to join is to have a little love in your heart,” he announced, before baptising the audience. Consider us converts.
Another welcome surprise comes in the form of special guest Celeste for a cover of Soul II Soul’s ‘Back to Life’. The pair work in perfect synergy as they get the audience grooving, their chemistry and respect for each other as performers evident. The set closes with ‘Professional’ and ‘Remember Me’, but another hour would have been welcome by the committed audience.
Seasoned performers, the band is tight throughout – the three backing vocalists all immeasurably talented. As one would expect though, Lusk’s vocals steal the show. For an artist who not too long ago quit the music industry before finding his musical brothers Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian, it seems like he should be doing this forever. For 45 blissful minutes, Gabriels turned Glastonbury into church. And if church was really like this, we’d be there every Sunday.