Live Review: Tom Odell at O2 City Hall Newcastle

Rowan Christina Driver talks us through Tom Odell's concert at the O2....

Rowan Christina Driver
14th March 2022
Credit: Instagram @tompeterodell
Tom Odell’s return to touring was met in Newcastle with a warm and enthusiastic welcome; even as his audience filtered into the historic City Hall venue, overpriced drinks in hands, there was an overarching buzz of anticipation.

Opening with “numb”, Odell had his audience captivated; his sole presence on stage shrouded in darkness to leave just the silhouette of singer and piano. A brutally raw song to begin with, documenting the impact of a break-up on mental and physical health, showing this is an artist who is unafraid to exude the vulnerability for which his songs are so poignant. This opening set a precedent for a recurring motif of silhouettes throughout, which lighting designer Joe Beardmore of PhosphorTech later explained was Odell’s own influence, stating he “didn’t want his face to be seen in the most vulnerable moments” – the nature of his lyricism here provided the emphasis on negative space.

It was not just the moments of low lighting which hit notes of poignancy however – Beardmore explained that “bringing it down gives you room to ramp it up”, and Odell’s set demonstrated just that. Though at times awkward – Odell is clearly an artist who merely enjoys producing art as opposed to the attention that comes with it – he is fundamentally aware of his audience and capable of playing the showman for his crowd. He even went as far as to flaunt the signature black and white stripes of a Newcastle United scarf for his encore, adding a noteworthy touch for this particular audience. Explosive lighting in hues of blues and reds accompanied the building of rhythmic drumbeats, intricate guitar riffs and rousing piano melodies in Odell’s iconic big ballads like “Grow Old With Me” and “Another Love”, guaranteeing uproar from a crowd moved to tears by both a musical and visual spectacle you’d perhaps think more synonymous with rock and roll, yet was orchestrated by Odell in such a subtly commanding nature it could not have been further from the chaos this implies. He managed to encapsulate a natural nervousness which seemed all the more relatable, blending it with the confident outer shell of a born performer who has nurtured his craft.

While his confidence may not have appeared entirely effortless, his vocals were without flaw. It is rare a live vocal performance matches the perfected mixing of recorded material, but Tom Odell outshone anything you may have heard of him on any album thus far. He utilized his beautiful falsetto tones which combined with singular spotlights and pale white backdrops gave an air of ethereality, before dropping into his chest to hold notes with such overwhelming power it was impossible not to feel choked.

Odell provided us not just with familiarity in performing his old hits and dead set crowd-pleasers but was also rather liberal with sharing new and unreleased material. As well as the soon-to-be released “The Best Day of My Life”, a tender tune laced with naked and comforting simplicity, Odell invited his Newcastle crowd to be the first to hear a new song “Just Another Thing That We Don’t Talk About”, a personal highlight of the evening which gives promise of great things to come. Other highlights included a beautifully harmonised collaboration with Rae Morris in “Half as Good as You”, and a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s hit “True Colours” which could rival the original with unexpected ease. It was overall an evening of variety, be it visually, musically, or emotionally - leaving us with no less than warming fulfilment and hunger for what Tom Odell might do next.

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