Social Sec Sorcha Hornett reviews Tom Odell’s enjoyable and energetic recent stop at Birmingham’s O2 Academy
Tom Odell took over the O2 Academy on a Sunday night to a sold-out audience. I was expecting a sedate and relaxed evening, but I was highly mistaken. Odell captured the audience from start to finish, and his live show offered a whole new dimension to his popular, soulful, emotional songs.
The show opened with the title track from his new album, Jubilee Road. The song featured just Odell playing the piano under a single spotlight, creating an intimate atmosphere. It was the perfect start to the gig, mostly because it was exactly how I expected the gig would be, but it left me surprised when he launched into higher tempo songs. He followed ‘Jubilee Road’ with ‘I Know’, yet I didn’t even realise we had moved into a different song because his transitions were seamless. The lighting changed to allow the whole audience to be bathed in light, also revealing the rest of the band accompanying Odell. ‘I Know’ really warmed the crowd up, which saw Odell throwing himself into the performance, so much so, that he threw his piano stool aside, so that he could stand.
With Odell constantly behind the piano, you would think it would be difficult to entertain the crowd, however he used the piano as purely an extension to his performance,whether this be standing up and playing, or getting on top of it to greet the audience’s cheers before jumping down. He played numerous fan favourites, including ‘Wrong Crowd’, ‘Grow Old With Me’ and ‘Heal’. He also played some new material from his new album, taking the upbeat tone down for a new song ‘You’re Going to Break my Heart Tonight’, which he announced, ‘is the saddest song on the new album’. It was a beautiful, dulcet ballad, and exactly what you would expect from Odell – heart-wrenching, beautiful lyrics.
The set reached its peak with a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ mid-way through ‘Son of an Only Child’, which the crowd adored and sung along too. This was followed by ‘Entertainment’, before delivering the greatly-desired hit ‘Another Love’. Odell knew how to leave the crowd wanting more, and left the stage on a high with the crowd erupting into cheers. I thought that would be the end of the gig, as he had already been playing for around an hour and a half, but Odell once again graced the stage for an encore. However, this was four songs long, and took the total running time to two hours. While Odell has amazing stage presence and a beautiful voice, the set was too long, and I found myself getting bored in the middle of the encore. He played favourites like ‘Concrete’, ‘Half as Good as You’ and finished with the popular ‘Magnetised‘ from his second album, however the encore shouldn’t have been four songs, and two songs probably would’ve been enough.
‘Magnetised’ ended with Odell and his band descending into an upbeat crescendo as they brought the night to a close. There is no denying Odell has an incredible voice and knew how to entertain a crowd. I was in disbelief at how good his stage presence was despite playing a piano for the majority of the set. However, the set itself was far too long, the encore should’ve been shorter, and it was unexpected to be as long as it was for someone with only two albums. Saying that, Odell exceeded my expectations; what I thought would be a relaxed, mellow Sunday night was actually slightly wild; he let the versatility of his music shine and was very fun to watch. Odell really did surprise me. I am looking forward to his upcoming album and will remember this gig for all the right reasons.
‘Jubilee Road’ is available now via Sony Music Entertainment. Tickets to see Tom Odell perform live are available here.