It’s fair to say that Tom Odell’s last bout of live shows were relatively disappointing, largely due to songs falling flat from frankly a lack of energy. While there’s no doubting his abundance of talent, when playing solo he seems to lack a certain spark. Fast forward a few years to last night’s performance at Manchester Town Hall and those previous statements can be buried away in some deep place. Backed by a live band that includes former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows, Odell now seems re-energised and new album Wrong Crowd certainly appears to be a pedestal from which the singer-songwriter has considerably raised his game.
Venues are often overlooked for their role as catalyst in creating a truly spectacular show; the combination of Odell’s soaring vocals and the grandeur of the town hall made for a distinctively memorable evening. Even Odell looked slightly overawed as he took to the stage, before breaking into a particularly upbeat version of ‘Still Getting Used to Being On My Own’ that had the majority of the 400 strong crowd swaying in unison.
Odell’s music is centred on creating emotive connections, with renditions of it becoming raw in person. Odell doesn’t just play a song; he reenacts the personal meaning behind the lyrics and presents them in a way that everyone can understand. The singer-songwriter throws himself franticly over his piano during a stirring performance of ‘I Know’, which sees revellers struggling to compose themselves in the face of such devotion to a musical performance. Only interacting with the crowd through a series of elated smiles and nods, he hurtles through a number of tracks such as ‘Wrong Crowd’ and ‘Concrete’.
‘Another Love’ is widely received as Odell’s most recognised number and no matter how many times you listen to it; you can always guarantee a little tug on your heartstrings. Odell tidies up with a frenzied performance of ‘Magnetised’ that features some chaotic drumming courtesy of Burrows, as well as a fair bit of mic swinging from Odell. He then decides to leave the comfort of his piano to exert a final burst of energy upon the crowd, made mostly of 40 somethings, who have abandoned all care and are dancing wildly, hanging on to his every word.
Despite early assumptions of Manchester Town Hall being a bore-fest, it’s fair to say that Odell’s new-found vigour has added another dimension to his performance and makes for a rousing spectacle. Still only 25, it remains to be seen what dizzying heights the Ivor Novello winner can reach.