Dressed in a well-tailored black suit that covered up more of her body than any other singer would dare not bare these days, Gabrielle got off to a sensible start by singing a couple of songs from the new album: 'Show Me Love' which she dedicated to the memory of a recently-departed fan and 'I Remember', a standard R&B song if ever there was one.
Next up was the top 10 UK single 'Sunshine' followed by 2004's 'Ten Years Time' which surprisingly was the first of a few songs last night to have a slightly country twang in their arrangements. She and her band then got it up for her current single 'Every Little Teardrop', a pleasantly catchy number that wouldn't sound out of place on a Lenny Kravitz album. 'When a Woman' got a few folks on their feet and 'Tell Me What You Dream' brought us back into familiar R&B territory.
My favourite song of the night was 'Why', the first single from 'Always' and derived from Paul Weller's 'Wild Woods'. It's so much better than the modest and brief time on the UK singles chart it received. After that the audience perked up a bit clapping along to her contribution to the Bridget Jones soundtrack 'Out of Reach'.
'Give and Take' was followed by 'Falling', Gabrielle's homage to the Supremes. 'Heartbreaker', also from 'Always', featured a funky jam and, with its 'na-na-na-nas' would have done Sly and the Family Stone proud.
I really love Gabrielle's look right now, with her diamond-encrusted sunglasses, and I almost needed a pair myself during 'Fallen Angel'. With lyrics like 'Let it go. Let it go. Troubled soul. Let it go. Troubled soul', it's a heartbreaker. This wasn't necessarily the case when it came time for the album's title track 'Always'. As with more R&B songs than can be counted, the riffs in this song are great but the lyrics are a bit lacklustre. However, salvation was on its way when Gabby took a breather allowing her willowy pair of back-up singers to strike out on their own in a James Brown-funk-era-esque moment that also made excellent use of her nasty – and that's a good thing - bass and drum battery.
Like 'Why', the arrangement of 'Rise' took advantage of its 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' sample while 'Give Me a Little More Time' had folks up and in the aisles to dance.
When Gabrielle and Co. came back to the stage for the encore, she acknowledged the crowd's cry for 'Dreams' but made them wait while she sang 'Closure' before paying the rent (as I've heard one 80s singer refer to performing his biggest hit at the end of show). Everyone went predictably nuts at this point which, as my date commented, must either cause Gabrielle to feel heartache or immense gratitude. A bit of both I guessed.