14th October | O2 Academy
Photos: Nathan Roach
The O2 Academy became full early on, with eager anticipation for indie-folk pop man, Tom Grennan. A mixed crowd instantly gave a sense of his widespread appeal and suggested that his music can defy age and gender. First up was Everything is Imagined, followed by Elli Ingram; both support acts warmed up the crowd within their own genres. Everything is Imagined gave an electric set and Elli Ingram left the audience in awe with her soulful vocal and jazz/blues performance.
The sold-out Bristol show didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts, due to technical difficulties. Grennan performed ‘Sweet Hallelujah’ acoustically whilst they were trying to solve the problem but unfortunately it took a little longer, with the show starting about twenty minutes late. But rather than returning backstage, Grennan stayed on stage and waited with the crowd.
Most of you would feel uncomfortable having thousands of pairs of eyes staring at you, waiting for you to say or do something whilst they wait. But Grennan handled the situation with style; making jokes with the crowd, charming a woman in the front row and even taking the opportunity to perform an acoustic version of ‘First Day of the Sun’ – which he said he had never performed live before.
It felt as if the slow start only made Grennan more eager to give an outstanding show, as a thank you to the crowd for their patience. After a go-ahead from the sound engineer, Grennan kicked off the show with ‘Royal Highness’. The song is certainly a crowd-pleaser from his debut album Lighting Matches and helped make his fans forget about the delayed start.
Grennan then continued with more tracks: ‘Praying’, ‘Lighting Matches’ and ‘Barbed Wire’. Even though we were only halfway through the set, Grennan’s strong and raw vocal was undeniable. Despite telling the crowd he had had the flu all week, you would never have known.
The crowning moment that displayed the grit and emotion in his voice was the performance of ‘Run in the Rain.’ He asked the audience to remain quiet as he performed it acoustically with his two female backing singers. In that moment, it was truly amazing and baffling to think that this man had not realised the talent in his voice until he drunkenly sang karaoke at 18.
Grennan then worked through ‘I Might’, ‘Secret Lover’ and ‘Sober’, all upbeat tracks; the crowd knew every word. The set came to close with the fan favourite, ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’ and Grennan thanked the crowd and left the stage. However, the cheeky chap returned to perform ‘Something in the Water’ and ‘Little by Little Love’. The slow-pace, singalong tracks brought the show to the perfect close and provided the crowd with the ‘lighters in the air’ moment.
Grennan is a born performer and throughout the show, he seemed completely at ease and in his element. He told the crowd that there would be new music soon and that the next tour will only be two things: bigger and better.