Tom Odell @ o2 Academy, 21st October 2018

Soulful singer songwriter Tom Odell is a master of crafting expressive tunes. Backboned by the piano, Odell’s records are dripping in atmospheric eloquence, juxtaposed by rousing bluesy electronic guitar riffs and thudding drums. His music is a cacophony of sound transposing emotional situations to another expressive reality. The contained sound found on his album is released in ecstatic explosion when played live; at a packed O2 Academy Tom Odell released a flurry of sound, creating an emotional rollercoaster of a show that transfixed time, a splendour that is hard to contain in words.

In the most dramatic of fashions Odell started his night like the rock star he is; on a blackened stage a single beam of light shone, filtering over the black piano. In silence Odell sauntered onto stage, donning a forest green suit he perched atop his piano stool taking a breath before launching into new tune ‘Jubilee Road.’ Creating an intimate feel, a serene warmth spread over the crowd as Odell’s silky voice filled the room. Seeming to stop time the opening may have not been a burst of energy and yet its poignant beauty is unmatched, Odell granting the stilled audience with a gift of musical perfection.

The serene introduction did not last long, in a crescendo of sound the band and Odell blasted into hit ‘I Know,’ creating a flurry of energy that infiltrated the audience. Dancing and clapping in sporadic glee the mood shift signalled a high tempo energy that would permeate the set. Whimsical ‘Sparrow’ was followed by sombre ‘Supposed to Be,’ Odell controlling the emotional state of the room by his piano.

Clear fan favourite ‘Wrong Crowd’ launched an ecstatic spray of energy. Followed by new album recording ‘You’re Gonna Break My Heart,’ an electrical guitar tinged rock anthem, and massive ‘Heal’ the enthusiasm continued to climb reaching an inhuman level of frenzy. Explosive ‘Can’t Pretend’ was followed by love song ‘Grow Old With Me.’ The clear fan favourite elicited an immediate rush of excitement, the crowd singing along with unreserved passion as Odell crooned over the band while standing atop his beloved piano.

In blasts of sound that are mirrored by the frantic bursting lights, ‘Hold Me’ streamed through. Halfway through the song Odell wanders into the crowd, literally embodying the song as he is held in the arms of the masses congregated to watch his performance. Jumping back on stage Odell circles, winding up at his piano. In a burst of energy he kicks over the piano still, falling to the ground in frantic convulsion as he plays, wrapping the song with a truly insane burst of enthusiasm.

Midtempo ‘Song of an Only Child’ offers a short respite from the high octane set, Odell magically intertwining John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ into the ending. The tempo continues to wind down as sullen and intoxicating ‘Entertainment’ streams through. With a sort of bluesy outlaw quality the song takes on a different texture than the others, but is a beautiful expansion of the typical Odell song. The song in all of its beauty is also dripping in irony, a fact fans seem to miss, as the lyrical content is steeped  in a musicians lament of being used solely for the purpose of entertainment. While Odell sings, it seems his temporary enjoyment of the night overshadows any sense of use. ‘Another Love’ rounds on the set.

After a very short moment Odell walks alone back onto the stage, launching the encore with piano ballad ‘Somehow.’  Like the beginning of the night the song shines in its simplicity, another reminder of the intimacy of Odell and his music. Anthematic ‘Till I Lost’ is followed by sultry ‘Concrete.’ ‘Half as Good as You’ and ‘Magnetised’ round out the night, fans acting as Odell’s personal choir singing with a ferocity that overpowers the thudding instrumentals.

For a man who has corned the market on piano ballads, Tom Odell curates a live show that is part rock star, part pop star, firing song after song with such energy and enthusiasm that you barely have time to catch your breath. The songs are backboned by a masterful band that fills the room with mindboggling sound. Far from the sad lonely piano boy mantra, Odell at the O2 Academy delivered a bombastic show that was truly one of the best. For two hours Odell wowed fans, mixing high octane energy with an emotional rollercoaster of songs that all culminated for a mind-blowing evening.

Reviewer: Kylie McCormick

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