As a man who defies his critics, I was excited to see Tom Odell for what would be my second time, the last being after the release of his sophomore album, Wrong Crowd, back in 2016. Odell was due to play the Brighton Centre once more, having performed there previously with support from Rag’n’Bone Man, an artist who has achieved monumental success since. Because of this, I was intrigued as to who would be supporting Odell this time around and was a little surprised when the gig was moved to Brighton Dome, although still excited having already witnessed what a great performer he is.
Opening act came in the form of Charlotte, a youthful looking performer with a voice to rival the likes of Adele. As she powered through each ballad her voice sounded pitch perfect, offering up a rendition of Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’, which was a really interesting performance that only increased my admiration of the original track, something that’s hard to get right!
Second to take to the stage was Tom Speight, a London-based singer who manages to fuse folk and pop together effortlessly. As he progressed through his set, he took a moment to share the connection people have felt with track ‘Willow Tree’ and stated that he considers it his “wedding song”. It was clear why, as it was a definite highlight from his set, blending smooth vocals with delicate instrumentation. Despite the fact many fans were still yet to turn up, Speight took the opportunity to join the crowd for part of the performance which, while a bold move, fell a little flat, mostly due to the fact he didn’t have his mic and that the large open space somewhat drowned his vocals.
After two support acts Odell began his performance to roars from the now expanding crowd, who had gradually filled the room. Sat at his signature piano, he opened with track ‘Jubilee Road’ from his new, third album of the same name. During a performance of ‘Wrong Crowd’ he chuckled to himself attempting to recreate the track’s whistle, before admitting he couldn’t whistle, to laughter from the crowd. As he performed ‘Hold Me’ he held hands of fans in the front row, before climbing into the crowd and standing above, encouraging fans to sing louder and join in with him. During a performance of new track ‘You’re Gonna Break My Heart Tonight’, he expressed the fact that he considered the saxophone breakdown a risky move. It’s moves like this, however, that have helped his latest album stand out from his previous work and it’s exciting to see him expanding into different directions.
Highlight from the set was his impressive early single ‘Can’t Pretend’, which has aged gracefully, always a shining example of Odell’s vocals and spirit in his performance. In the last couple of years Odell has progressed immensely with his live shows, creating a discography that uplifts his stage persona. While he’s always had an excellent vocal range, his voice has only improved and he’s developed the showmanship to match. As the last night of his new album’s promotional tour, Odell pulled out all the stops, providing a performance full of energy and passion which impressively saw him on stage for just under two hours in total.
While Odell may not have had the hype around his latest release that he did with his debut, he is still an artist we should treasure. Since beginning his career with debut Long Way Down, he’s been building on every aspect of himself as a singer-songwriter, whether that’s developing his live shows or his studio material. Having shared his love of Brighton and citing it as an inspiration for much of his early work, it’s a shame he has moved further afield, but we can only hope he continues to visit and uses whatever inspiration he finds to bring new and interesting ideas to his music.