Tom Odell at Brixton Academy
British singer/songwriter Tom Odell’s show is as simple as his setup: he sits on the stage of Brixton Academy with nothing more than a piano and a spotlight; his voice does the rest. But this tour is the first time in years that Odell’s band has been heard – or even seen – on the stage alongside him. Although he can lead the crowd with just a piano, there is more potency in the clashing cymbals and jazzy guitar riffs. His appearance has also changed since the last tour. This does not include his style, which keeps to his regular formal attire, but his hair, now short and curly. Just like his sound, he appears to have matured.
The Elton John influence is pretty much evident, both stylistically and sonically, from the flashing strobes and opening bars of Can’t Pretend. He takes fans through his catalogue almost as comfortingly as someone reading the phonebook, from fan favourite Grow Old with Me to the newer, slower ballad single Lose You Again. Hold Me elicits a response from the band, the drums leading, instead of his piano. Odell even puts his hands in the air, truly surrendering himself to his bandmates.
Not only does he show versatility in his singing, but also his talking. The artist manages to drift effortlessly into deep topics (his latest release, Monsters, having alluded to his struggles with mental illness) but then brings the vibe back to humour. He runs through a slew of songs from the record, including Fighting Fire with Fire, a more pop-heavy synthetic song that definitely gets people moving as if in a club. There is also an equal balance of nostalgic songs, including a truly breathtaking cover of True Colours. He really does shine through.
The show ends on Another Love, and, although it’s the last song, the crowd still sings with as much enthusiasm as if it were the very first. It is not often that an artist can consistently captivate an audience for over an hour with barely anything moving aside from their voice, but, somehow, Odell keeps the energy high, even in his much slower ballads, like Heal. One caveat is perhaps that the venue was too big for his small sound. A more intimate setting might offer better acoustics and strengthen the connection between him and the fans. Still, Odell manages to thoroughly dominate Brixton Academy.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information and future events visit Tom Odell’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Lose You Again here: