LIVE REVIEW: TOM ODELL

This article was originally published on Soundspot

14/11/16

O2 Academy Brixton

It’s 9 pm on a Tuesday and the roadies are setting up the stage and techs are testing the mics and instruments. There is quite the stage setup. Two drum kits, one mic and stand to the left, another one at the back, three more to the right side of the stage and, of course, Odell’s staple, a black grand piano in centre stage with two microphones. Finally, the cheetah from his Wrong Crowd music video, the title song from his sophomore album, fills the background screen and the crowd goes crazy.

Five band members walk out and Odell follows them, in a half-buttoned red shirt, black blazer and matching trousers. After acknowledging the crowd with a wave he sits at the piano and the first notes of Still Getting Used To Being On My Own start playing. As the song builds up and the band joins in, the lights enhance every accent the song offers, making it the perfect opening song. Standing towards the front of the packed O2 Academy Brixton, the experience is incredibly engaging.

For Concrete, Odell stands up and goes to one of the mic stands. He thanks the crowd for being so appreciative – and we’re still only five songs into the set. Everyone is into the sensual, arresting slow jam. Even Odell sways his hips to this one. The backing vocals in this song give off a gospel-like sound.

The show calms down with three consecutive ballads. Odell is well known for his piano-led songs, with his vocals taking the audience on a journey with him. During Sparrow, his backing vocalist, Liz Lubega, steps out towards the front of the stage in the middle of the song and leads an instrumental section as she sings over it, showing off her incredible talent. Lubega’s adlibs over the music are stunning as she commands mastery in all vocal ranges. The band is a tight, well-rehearsed team. During Constellations Odell introduces his drummer, Andy Burrows (formerly of Razorlight), to join him on stage. Burrows co-wrote this song and due to his sudden broken shoulder, have been unable to play the drums for Odell’s tour. The duo’s voices harmonise beautifully, adding emotion to the love song.

The mood suddenly changes with Hold Me, the rowdiest song in his repertoire. Odell uses the verses to sing towards the audience, giving a more enticing performance before walking to the front of the stage and then down to the audience. The crowd reacts in hope of getting as close to the singer as possible. He shares how he’s grateful he doesn’t live in America as he dedicates Real Love to President-elect Donald Trump.

Undoubtedly, Tom Odell and the team have performed the perfect setlist, combining songs from both albums. The show closes with Magnetised. Lasting almost 10 minutes, Odell comes back down to the barriers and then tells everyone to throw themselves into the last final moments of the gig.

Ever the performer and crowd pleaser, he climbs onto the piano, bowing one final time, and proceeds to walk out – but not before knocking down a few mic stands.

Maria

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