It’s chaos in The Brook. The room is packed out past capacity. Every inch of space is crammed with people, smoke machines, flashing lights. And there in the centre, beating the hell out of a piano and literally jumping up and down in his seat in a frenzy of creative passion, is recent BRIT award winner and musical sensation Tom Odell. He reaches the finale, and his chair goes flying across the stage. Everyone waits for the piano to explode in a shower of keys. But it survives the final chord, and after throwing his sweat-soaked towel into the audience (every underage girl in the crowd goes wild) and with a final flick of his floppy blonde fringe (which is now plastered to his forehead), Tom Odell flounces off stage.
This is one gig I am glad I did not miss. The show sold out months ago, and for good reason – upgraded from Joiners to The Brook due to massive demand. Though still relatively unheard of, Tom’s music has already inspired a huge and devoted following, and two hours before he was due on-stage there was already a sizeable group of fans gathering to catch the support acts.
The night kicked off somewhat confusingly with London based singer Misty Miller. Though immensely talented at the age of 18, the ‘rock-chick’ songs didn’t quite fit with the expectations of a crowd waiting for the emotive melodies of Tom Odell. It was a slow start.
But then a miracle happened in the form of second support act London Grammar: these three unknowns got on stage and within seconds had literally blown everyone away. Their sound was a kind of ethereal pop, whipped into a hyper-real fever dream by the haunting vocals of front singer Hannah and the ability to play just about anything (including a bongo drum) from the band’s two musicians Dot and Daniel. Their opening song ‘Hey Now’ was enough to have the whole crowd hooked and shouting for more. This is a band that’s going places fast and I strongly suggest you check them out.
With such strong support, the stage was well and truly set for Tom Odell, and he didn’t disappoint. Swigging from a wine bottle in an oversized shirt, he was the very picture of the tortured artistic genius as he flew through a set that was stunning. Songs ranged from well-known favourites ‘Another Love’ and ‘Can’t Pretend’ to newer material ‘Hold Me’, but in every performance there was an energy that was infectious. A highlight of the night was his cover of Rolling Stones classic ‘Honky Tonk Woman’. Thrown in from nowhere, Tom took a rock classic and made it his own. The piano got a good bashing, the band went crazy and everyone was having a blast. This was without a doubt the best performance I’ve seen in a long time.
If you managed to get a ticket for this gig: well done. At just 22 years old, the days of seeing Tom Odell in a small venue are most definitely numbered. If you missed out, he’s playing Southampton Guildhall in October. This is your chance to see an insanely talented musician give you everything he’s got. And Tom Odell has got a lot.