For those of you unfamiliar with Tom Odell, he is a British songwriter with an incredible voice and a flair for dramatic and emotional piano led ballads which tend to cover love, loss and heartache. His first full length album, Long Way Down, released in 2013 and reached number one in the U.K. albums chart, propelling him into the limelight.
I have personally always associated his work with a sense of melancholy and slow, hushed sincerity which connects with the listener on a very private level and I expected his live performance to evoke a similar atmosphere. I was then pleasantly surprised by the sheer passion and energy Odell brought to his performance, which elevated the entire experience while still maintaining a sense of intimacy.
Early in his career, shortly after the success of Long Way Down, Odell went on tour supporting major artists such as Elton John and Billy Joel, both infamous for their powerful piano led performances, and it is clear that this experience has left a noticeable impression on him and his attitude to performing. Odell created a carnival like atmosphere, with the powerful sounds of the piano and accompanying instrumentation filling the room, guided by his impressive vocals. The venue perfectly suited the atmosphere and the grandeur of the performance. Newcastle City Hall has housed many famous acts in its time and once inside it’s clear why it remains a popular venue. Its acoustics are some of the best I’ve witnessed and allowed his performance to completely envelop you.
The show contrasted between grand bombastic performances and quieter and more profound moments, with Odell demonstrating his vocal range and talent. At all times the audience was captivated and there was never any sense of disconnect, nor any lulls in the performance. He performed a balanced mix of songs, sprinkling some of his greatest hits amongst the newer and lesser known songs from his upcoming album, Jubilee Road. He also incorporated a satisfying amount of stage banter throughout the night, offering titbits of insight into his songwriting mind-set and interacting with the audience, often turning away from the piano while playing to gaze into the crowd, inviting you to be part of his performance.
There were two personal highlights for me. The first being the performance of ‘Hold Me’ during which Odell descended from the stage into the crowd mid-song to join the throng of enthusiastic fans and lead a solo chorus. The second being the final performance of the night, as passionate members of the crowd belted out the accompanying background lyrics to the chorus of 'Magnetised', forming a makeshift choir, which inevitably lead to the whole venue joining in, despite everyone’s clear unwillingness to sing over Odell’s own extraordinary voice.
Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and has left me feeling extremely excited for the release of his upcoming album Jubilee Road, which will be released on the 26th of October and which I encourage everyone to check out. I would also highly recommend seizing the next opportunity to see Tom Odell perform live.