The Manchester Review

Tom Odell | O2 Apollo | October 19th

Tom Odell | O2 Apollo | Friday, October 19th

Tom Odell first came to the attention of most of us in 2013 with his debut album, Long Way Down, which shot quickly to number 1. The following year – after an Ivor Novello Award win for Best Songwriter – his sickly sweet “Real Love” graced Britain’s homes in the John Lewis Christmas ad (you remember, the one with the penguins). Since then, though, all has perhaps been a little quieter for the Sussex-born songster. Will his third album, Jubilee Road, to be released on 26th October, mark his return to John Lewis ad-level fame?

He certainly attracted a diverse and passionate group of fans on Friday night in support of his new and third album, Jubilee Road, due to be released October 26th. Odell had them eating out of his no doubt baby-soft hands by the second number and fan favourite, ‘I Know’, delivered with an astounding level of energy. Indeed, energetic is perhaps the word which best describes Odell’s performance: surprising, as most of his best-known hits are slightly sad love songs. I had been expecting a far more demure affair as I arrived three-beers-deep to an audience of middle-aged couples and twenty-something women with their mothers.

Odell is undoubtedly a natural entertainer; he’s been compared to a whole host of artists from Elton John to Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Lily Allen, who scouted the 27-year-old and signed him to her label more than five years ago now, cited his energy on stage as reminiscent of David Bowie. All of these comparisons make sense in one way or another; the show’s opening saw Odell at the piano sounding (if not quite looking) every bit the young Elton.

Odell is in his element during his two best-known numbers: ‘I Know’ and ‘Another Love’. ‘Another Love’ he wisely saves for the end; we all know the words to this one. Between these two old favourites were inserted a few new tunes from his forthcoming album. Jubilee Road is based on his experiences of living on an east London street (though names of places and individuals have understandably been changed). Jubilee Road, we learn, is populated by a lonely old man in purple dungarees, hard-drinking elders, stoner millennials and neighbours irked by Odell’s endless singing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Odell doesn’t live there anymore, but the stories make for one of the more pleasing new tracks. As usual, the mood is one of mild despair tempered by bouncy piano.

Odell was supported by two other fresh-faced singer-songwriters: the charming Tom Speight and Iowa-born Max Jury. Both support performances were far more understated and perhaps fresher than Odell’s. His talent as a singer and musician is indisputable, but something about the blond, floppy-haired songster seems somehow outmoded in 2018. That said, it’s impossible to come away from a night with Odell without humming one of his tunes.

by Laura Ryan

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