gabriels band gospel montreux jazz lab festival
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July 14, 2023
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Gabriels and their makeshift Missionary Baptist Church of the Montreux Jazz

The one who once declared “A gospel singer? I’ve done things with my tongue that ain’t holy!” in an interview with i news still gave us a taste of heaven last night on the Lab stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Formed unexpectedly after Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope met with Jacob Lusk while working on a film where they needed a choir, Gabriels is an eclectic band with surprising chemistry. We had the chance to meet the trio the day before their performance, freshly arrived in Montreux.

Tired yet friendly, Ari, Jacob, and Ryan were more than excited to be part of Montreux Jazz’s History. Recalling the festival’s past editions, each had the same legendary performer in mind when asked who they would have loved to see. “Definitely Nina Simone”, they all echoed, as Ryan added he would have loved to sneak in at Iggy Pop’s show this year.

Speaking of legendary performers, Jacob was fresh out of Glastonbury, where he was the special guest of none other than Elton John himself. “It was like a dream. It's a big blur, it still seems unreal but it was beautiful.” The two of them have been friends for quite a while now, but receiving the invitation to sing with him still amazed Jacob. On stage with the Rocket Man in a beautiful pink suit, the band’s singer always has the most incredible performance outfits. And he takes fashion very seriously! “He's got a whole written out schedule of what he's gonna wear. He’s so organized! “, Ari confessed. His fashion inspiration? Ranging from Diana Ross to Audrey Hepburn to Twiggy. But Jacob’s great sense of style is far from the most striking thing in the band.

With extraordinary vocals and breathtaking instrumentals, seeing Gabriels on stage is an otherworldly experience. Yesterday at Montreux was one of the first times the band performed the newly released second half of their album Angels and Queens. What strikes us the most is their range and eclecticism. In the span of 10 minutes, they’ll take you from dance to tears, and vice versa.

With Ryan also being a movie director and Ari a film scores composer, Gabriels has strong ties with cinema. Songs such as “We Will Remember” or “Blame” will make feel like the main character. “All of our songs are our stories and they all can be turned into movies” said Jacob. “That’s kind of how we write it. The lyrics kind of come from a script, a film. We try to paint a picture that feels like that.” added Ryan, “It's the music that sets this stage and then the words work within that, the way a movie does”.

And just like Hollywood, Gabriels is where the magic happens. The self-proclaimed boyband, “I’m reclaiming the term, it’s a new generation of a boyband. We’re a boyband!” laughed Jacob,  is to be experienced on stage.

Images courtesy of Lionel Flusin


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