Tom Odell: An emotional yet humbling atmosphere fitting for a cold January night

Tom Odell strikes a chord with his fans at Kingston’s Pryzm nightclub.

With lyrics as melancholic as Keats himself, I couldn’t think of anyone better to see in concert on a cold Monday evening in January than British singer/songwriter Tom Odell.

Taking a seat at his piano in Kingston’s Pryzm nightclub on Monday night (29 January), Odell began his concert with an instrumental before launching into The End from his latest album Black Friday.

The singer first graced us with his angelic voice and romantic lyrics back in 2012 with the release of his most famous song, Another Love, and has since gone on to headline festivals and garnered numerous accolades. So, it’s no surprise that his concert on Monday was sold out.

The gig, put on by Banquet Records, was part of a wider tour to promote his album.

Given that Odell has numerous London concerts upcoming later this year, including two at Camden Roundhouse in March, and one in Alexandra’s Palace in July, it was humbling to see him embrace the intimacy of Kingston’s infamous nightclub.

“We’re a little cramped in here, aren’t we?” he asked the crowd part way through the night.

As it was the first time I had seen Odell live, I was intrigued to see whether a voice as distinct and raw as his could be real or whether the voice I’ve heard on his recorded songs has benefited from a little autotune.

However, Odell proved to sound even better live when only two songs in when he belted out the high notes to Can’t Pretend.

Proving that he didn’t need much in terms of stage production, Odell kept his setup subtle. He sat centre stage at his piano accompanied by a bassist, drummer, and a guitarist.

The lighting was also kept to a minimal. A single spotlight shone on Odell throughout most of his set, although for the his faster songs this swapped to an interchanging of red and blue lighting, which seemed to match the mood of those songs.

While the lyrics behind each song he sang projected an air of melancholy, the melodies took us on an emotional rollercoaster, often starting slow with only Odell’s own piano playing to accompany him and gradually becoming more upbeat as his bandmates joined him with quicker tempos.

As Odell sang, I could see that his eyes were closed, even through the strands of his floppy fringe poking at them, proving that there was real emotion and experience behind his lyrics and that he could feel these as he sang, something that made me feel connected with Odell on a deeper level.

I felt I matched his feelings of heartache, remembering my own past experiences of emotional pain and turmoil.

Whilst there wasn’t much movement from the crowd other than people softly swaying along to the rhythm, they seemed to perk up when Odell performed one of his more upbeat songs, Grow Old With Me. This was one of my favourite songs of the night, and I am not ashamed to say that I added a little oomph to my swaying.

If I learnt anything from the concert, it would be that Odell is not just a musical genius, but he is also incredibly charismatic.

Odell made an effort to interact with the audience on several occasions, such as when he asked everyone to sing along to Hold Me. He even attempted to climb on top of his rather wobbly piano before jumping off again in true rockstar style.

Intermittent shouts of “We love you Tom” came throughout the evening.

I could definitely the love in the room, and there was a sense of community, not in the fact that we were all there to see Odell perform, but rather that it felt like we were all connecting to the emotion behind Odell’s lyrics.

Odell ended the night with Another Love (my favourite of his songs) after teasing the crowd with an unrecognisable piano instrumental.

Before performing this final song, Odell he thanked the audience for supporting the album and explained that his bandmates on stage with him played on the Black Friday album. “I’m really proud of the album,” he said.

For me, it certainly was the perfect start to the week and my only complaint is that I wished it had been on for longer.

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Editor and reporter for the Kingston Courier

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