Other than accidentally hearing Another Love on the radio, I knew very little about singer-songwriter Tom Odell before seeing him live at The Institute a couple of weeks ago. My friend had a spare ticket so I tagged along and left two hours later completely converted.
When the BRIT-Award winning musician strode on stage he was greeted by a screaming crowd, yet with mysterious modesty he went straight to the piano and launched into Grow Old With Me without so much as a word.
It’s clear that he’s not into fame; it’s the music he cares about. His furious passion in playing the piano is mesmerising and I found myself wishing I could play an instrument with the intensity he does. Due to Tom’s onstage presence, only a simple set was required. Yet a magical atmosphere was created by the giant light bulbs positioned around the stage. They glowed dimly during the melancholy songs, whilst a spotlight was cost on Odell, and flashed randomly during his more energetic tracks.
Stand out tracks were those lonely, brooding ones he does so well, such as his first single Can’t Pretend and my favourite, Sense, a touching song from his debut album Long Way Down. Odell has said his lyrics are inspired by his “inability to sustain a relationship with someone for longer than six months” and the lyrics to Sense are a real tear-jerker, such as when he poignantly asks “If I fell in love a thousand times, would it all make sense?”
Another highlight was his penultimate song- a surprise cover of Etta James’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You”. The crowd were all singing along and thumping their feet, whilst Odell’s cheeky substitution of ‘you’ for ‘all of you’ had his female fans cheering.
Odell also seemed to get on very well with the band- they were often laughing together and the crescendo of music they created together for the finale was incredible; it seemed as though they had forgotten the audience entirely and were in a world of their own.
Seeing Tom Odell live made my first experience of his songs so much more tangible and moving; I was surrounded by people who his music meant so much to, whilst also seeing how much it meant to him. His lyrics are incredibly touching and I found myself desperate to download his songs so I could listen to the words again. Above all, Tom Odell is something very rare: a musician who is even better heard live.