Tom Odell, Fryars and Wildflowers: O2 Academy, Sheffield

At only twenty-three years old, British singer-songwriter Tom Odell has achieved more than most artists his age. Over his short, yet highly successful career he has already had three UK tours, a number one album and a BRIT award (as well as a further two nominations for 2014). It’s safe to say that expectations were high for this artist who seemed to appear out of nowhere after he captured the public’s hearts with his staggeringly beautiful debut single ‘Another Love’. He is regularly compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and has been noted to take influence from musical legends such as Bob Dylan and Elton John, (he even performed with the latter at the iTunes Festival in 2013!)

It felt like one the coldest night in Sheffield yet so I was more than happy to warm up under the dim, amber lit set at the o2 Academy. The crowd are sufficiently pumped after having already watched two superb performances from 4-piece indie-folk band, Wildflowers and London based one-man project, Fryars.

Eventually, after much anticipation, Odell emerges onto the stage and begins his 90-minute set with the soft and delicate ‘Long Way Down’. Within moments we are captivated by his clear, pained vocals and gentle pattering on the piano. After a calm introduction, Tom commences to perform the emotionally pounding tune, ‘Can’t Pretend’. Odell pounds down on the piano as his song reaches crescendo. The crowd radiate his energy and soon they are bouncing off one another’s excitement and enthusiasm until the next song, ‘Sirens’, causes them to sway and sing along wholeheartedly. The music and the atmosphere of the o2 Academy continue to work in complete harmony as Tom uses his somnolent and arcing vocals for ‘Sense’.

Tom takes a moment to explain that his next song is about two years old, and judging from the crowd’s reaction, is evidently one of his most favoured tracks.  Despite the clichéd title, ‘Grow Old With Me’ it has a Mumford & Sons-esque vibe and an incredibly buoyant melody that makes for an ideal sing-a-long love song. A hardcore fan strews an item of clothing onto the stage and in return for this flattery Tom performs a brand new song (still without a name), which he informs us, will feature on his next album.

During the second half of the set, Tom performs ‘I Know’ and after ending the song on a climactic note, he and his band proceed to deliver an impromptu instrumental number, reminiscent of something from the beat generation. This display of instrumental spontaneity does not go unnoticed with the crowd as they continue to show their appreciation; even more so when Tom finally admits that they have “never done that before”.

Tom calms down the O2 Academy with the bluesy ‘Suppose To Be’ before finally introducing the audience to his band, who gladly play their own little catchy solos. These solos eventually develop into another ecstatic, upbeat tune which sees Tom whack out the glissandos. After all that excitement Odell plays the opening keys to the highly anticipated song of the night, ‘Another Love’. This is a song that I’d pretty much heard everywhere over the last summer, and despite this, it never seems to grow old and as I watch Tom Odell performing it on stage at this moment I can’t help but fall in love with it all over again.

Tom exits the stage for a few minutes before re-emerging to begin his sweltering encore, during which he plays ‘See If I Care’ from the Another Love EP and a stunning cover of Etta James’ ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’. After charming the audience, Tom teaches us the insanely catchy chorus to a new song called ‘Parties’, which the crowd gladly learn and recite back to him.

It is undeniable that Tom knows how to please a crowd with his relatable love songs and enthusiastic stage presence. I think it’s safe to say that my expectations were met, greeted and definitely exceeded.

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