Sunday, 27 November 2016

Tom Odell

No, Tom Odell is not a normal part of my relatively catholic music taste. But my mate James wanted to see him as a birthday treat (his birthday not Tom's!) and I like gigs, so was no hardship to join him. Added to which Brixton Academy is one of my favourite venues, so after dinner at a bar round the corner we headed into the venue to catch the end of the first support. Who to my surprise turned out to be Mike Maltese again, the same support I had seen at the Tom Chaplin gig the week before. I guess you do a blitz of support spots to try to get a little bit of traction from each.

Main support came from the Rag 'n' Bone Man, an act I had never heard of before. And a strange act - at least in the sense that you wouldn't pick to market him as a pop act. Massive bloke with tattoos - you feel he would be more suited to being an inmate in an American jail. And the sound is also very American. But the voice was close to sublime. very characterful. So an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. Not exactly my type of music, but certainly something I appreciated. Not sure quite how to describe his stuff - a cross between Blues and hip hop maybe?

And so onto Tom Odell. I have to explain my ambivalence towards this guy. I do also have to say that I did quite enjoy this gig, and that his work here was presented to its very best. But that is also sort of damning with faint praise, because my problem ultimately is that this is a collection of ok ballads. Ballads which were souped up and turbo-charged as much as they could be, but fundamentally all could have been played quietly in a piano bar late night. Instead they were belted out with a big band and whenever possible Tom launched himself out of his piano seat and up towards the audience or even on top of his piano. He really gave it his all.

To his credit also he has a good strong voice. Very strong even. But just not the character of the Rag 'n' Bone Man. Nor even the power of his black female backing singer who in a "voice off" would win. She was fantastic.

The light show was impressive too, with numerous occasions where he was just back-lit or spotlighted - see photos below. Very effective.

One also has to say he is a very good looking boy, accounting for a pretty strong, although far from exclusively, female audience. With the occasional shriek of "I love you Tom" which must have been quite distracting for him as he was about to start another quieter ballad. I did also rather admire the way however hot he must have been when bouncing around the stage under the lights for over an hour he never removed his jacket. I can totally see why he has become a successful solo artist and admire his undoubted talent. But not enough for me to want to buy an album.

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