Tom Odell at the Jazz Cafe
The UK’s return to live music has been a gradual but welcome one, now featuring Tom Odell’s Jazz Cafe takeover. Playing a second night at the intimate London venue, Odell gave a minimalistic yet atmospheric performance – no doubt vastly different to his last major tour in 2019. “I’m a bit ropey,” the musician admitted, before joking about “getting through a few songs to see if I can still play piano.” Anything but ropey, Odell switched between familiar renditions and teaser tracks from his upcoming fourth album, Monsters: simple but spine-tingling.
With just a grand piano, a spotlight and a showcase of ballads, it was an effortless demonstration of soul, the rare type of gig that, turns out, doesn’t need much so-called variety. There was breadth in the setlist, however, from lesser-known tracks from previous albums such as opener Behind the Rose, to crowdpleaser Grow Old with Me, and most recent single Money, which featured the entertaining audience singalong to the ironic words, “Fuck them, it’s all about me.” Making the most of his return to the stage, Odell blitzed through a satisfying number of songs over the course of the evening.
The venue added to the overall charm, as one could hear both the sound of wine being poured and the light tapping of the singer’s foot. It’s a setting that suited this type of performance perfectly; the BRIT award-winner’s vocals could boom and quiver simultaneously, easily filling the room alongside the dynamic and often forcefully reverberating piano accompaniment. The stripped-back style brought even more depth to recent singles Monster, Lose You Again, and Numb, which usually have more of an electro-pop production. The setting also worked well for crescendoing tracks like Can’t Pretend and encore Another Love, which would have had a rousing impact in any venue, but which here were allowed even more drama and intensity. Either way, the performance easily transcended any recording, a powerful reminder of the wonder of live music.
Odell is a serious storyteller by craft, however he showed his funny side through short anecdotal introductions too. Jokingly acknowledging that he had “put together a miserable setlist”, he led listeners into a spontaneous debut of a new, “less miserable song”, featuring the lyrics “don’t be afraid of the dark”. There appear to be recurring themes of overcoming fear in this personal album, and this is definitely something his wider audience will be able to relate to.
Describing the opportunity to return to live music as “such a huge thrill and honour”, it’s clear that this is a new milestone for the singer, and hopefully the scaled-down start of a return to much bigger things.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Tom Odell’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Lose You Again here: