17 September 2004 / The Castle (Oldham St) / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine
We never really knew how much we’d miss Gabrielles Wish til they’d gone. Stalwarts of the live scene for a few years now, the return after a couple of years’ break is a low-key fixture. Yet the number of people trying to cram into the back room of an Oldham Street pub is a sign of this band’s enduring appeal. And it certainly makes for an interesting gig, as barely a song goes by without people stumbling right through the makeshift “stage” area. At one point a man clearly the worse for wear manhandles Rob’s mic stand, yet the band don’t miss a beat. Now expanded to include Karen Leatham, formerly of Wonky Alice and The Fall, on keyboards and almost folded into a corner under the dartboard, there’s also the welcome return of powerhouse drummer Bo Walsh after a couple of years in Nylon Pylon. The dark and brooding “Shaking Like A Leaf” with echoes of Killing Joke is almost intimidating with Rob three inches from your face.
But it’s when Karen straps on a bass that things really get interesting. Duelling with regular bassist Darren Moran the new five-piece Gabrielles Wish crank out dirty punk funk that makes the likes of Franz Ferdinand look like the art school band they are; there’s still a Chameleons tinge to the guitar parts and Rob’s Factory ’79 vocals, but it’s astonishing how very “now” this time-served band are sounding tonight. They end on their classic “Clear Blue Skies” and as that unmistakeably perfect bassline rolls out from speakers precariously balanced on tables the narrow doorway to the back room is packed with people just trying to get a look in. The faithful fans at this word-of-mouth gig are impressed. Now it’s time to relaunch to the wider world – a world which musically is very different from two years ago. Post-punk is the order of the day now, and Gabrielles Wish have quite a head start.
Gabrielles Wish make their official comeback with a midnight set at Blowout @ The Bierkeller, Sunday 19th.