When Poetry, Whiskey and Angels summon the muse

in Features

One of the great joys of poetry is its imagery. Pictures conjured up by weaving words together in an inspirational manner are one thing but when music is added to the equation and the formula is enriched by its live performance, poetry becomes three dimensional and more inclusive. This shared experience between poet, musicians and audience works best in intimate settings where words are not lost in translation.

Gabriel Moreno launched his latest album ‘Whiskey with Angels’ at the Kasbar recently. He was accompanied by three ‘Quivering Poets’ (the name of his band whose members are all poets in their own right). Fiona Bevan is a violinist, Ned Cartwright a pianist and Adam Beatie is a bassist and they regularly perform in London, Gabriel fronting the band with his poems in songs which bask in the light of the eternal Leonard Cohen. The fibre of this music poetry offering is best digested in taverns where the conviviality of the genre is worshipped by revelers who are usually only metres away from the artists.

When Gabriel summons the poetry muse here, we all win because the heady mix of whiskey, angels, poetry and music transforms the occasion into a memorable experience shared by his fans who feel privileged to have participated in the feast. He accomplished this recently on three occasions during his lightning tour which saw the ‘Quivering Poets’ perform twice at the Kasbar and once at Latinos, all sold out. Adam Beatie and Gabriel have played here before but Fiona Bevan and Ned Cartwright are both Gibraltar virgins. I spoke to them after the gig and they loved it so we may be fortunate to see them again soon, perhaps in October.

There were two special guests who sat in with the ‘Quivering Poets’ at the Kasbar gig on Wednesday June 16 which I attended. Jensen Callejon the enterprising local percussionist who always pulls many strings to bring Gabriel Moreno to perform here and Joni Belaruski who is an Irish artist and drummer with a Punk Folk band called ‘The Great Malarkey’. The contributions from both brought colour and rhythm to songs which they were invited to perform in. The magic totally came from the man who has a gift for poetic imagery. Gabriel curates and hosts many Poetry nights across London and is currently making inroads into promoting new talent and rekindling the embers after the pandemic all but wiped out the poetry scene over there.  

From the first strums of ‘An Angel sleeps in your Mirror’ (track 2) to the last strains of the spirited chorus of ‘We can write England all over again’ (track 1) at the encore, we were held spellbound by captivating hooky songs and profound insightful ballads like the promised new single ‘Angel of Joy’ which is out on July 9. When you can hear a pin drop and a tinkling piano or a guitar arpeggio directs your senses to tell you that you are in special company, you too have been touched by the spirit of the muse evoked in words that have come from his innermost thoughts that give birth to poems that later become the bewitching music that embraces and transports you to a word heaven that beckons. I often wish I could write phrases like ‘Nose diving into the Night’ (track 6).

This ‘taverna’ music poetry which Gabriel Moreno dispenses, transcends time so that after two hours with only a short break for refreshment, the show has ended and you are back into the night air, albeit with an afterglow as you remember all those quirky tunes and spirited choruses sprinkled with good words which you promise to check out again and again when you listen to the CD (or vinyl LP in my case). I promised the man that I would catch up with him properly, meaning a coffee fueled long chat where the world gets righted and we renew our friendship across a table and not a tablet.

There were a number of artists and close friends attending the soiree and the message will spread as indeed it is spreading in the London poetry brothels. His new single out this month ’Angel of Joy’ is a timely departure from the style to which we are accustomed. It’s a beautifully crafted song which draws you in from the first listen. We were indeed privileged to have heard it live here on its first outing. As my title suggests when Poetry, Whiskey and Angels summon the muse, something magical happens and it’s a kind of magic that we need to have more of because poetry and music are food for the soul.

“An offshoot of Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. I love it.”

Cerys Mathews, BBC6 Music

Angel Of Joy is a song written during lockdown about the lockdown itself and how the lack of randomness, absent human connections and general frustration has summoned a longing for the nights we shared pre-plague times. During the most difficult moments of the Covid 19 Pandemic there was an inclination to believe that performance and art would not come back. It was during these times of uncertainty that this song appeared after a long dream about a drunken night in London. The Angel of Joy represents the moments of plenitude and human bonds which are so key to our psychological well-being and hopefulness. This is not a religious angel but rather an urban apparition who reminds us of the good times we hope will be back soon. The single is a taster for the upcoming 2022 album, THE YEAR OF THE RAT.

Angel Of Joy was written and performed by Gabriel and recorded in Florence Terrace isolation home studio, South East London and mixed at Cowshed Studios, North London.

Gabriel Moreno is a Gibraltarian poet and singer songwriter who has been performing for the past twenty years in Gibraltar, Peru, Italy, Spain, USA and the UK. In December 2019 he won the Introducing Stage at the Great British Folk Festival. He has ten poetry books published by Omicron and Orion in both Spanish and English. His folk songs are both poetic and political, mining the same rich seams as Leonard Cohen, Fabrizio Dandre and Georges Brassens. Gabriel is also the curator of three important music and poetry nights in the London scene, nurturing new and established talent – ‘The Lantern Society’, ‘Poetry Mondays’ and ‘Notes from Underground’, with stellar regular performers including Romeo and Michele Stodart (Magic Numbers), Ren Harvieu, BJ Cole and Piers Faccini.

He has released three albums, ‘Love and Decadence’ and ‘Farewell Belief’, “Whiskey With Angels” on Amber Records, and his EP ‘Poetical Resistance’ with which he toured the UK and Europe.

For more information and the latest news, please visit www.gabrielmoreno.co.uk

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