27th March | Thekla
It’s Wednesday night, a balmy March evening in Bristol; the penultimate show of William Phillips, aka Tourist’s 2019 tour at Thekla is a sell-out. 400 people fill the boat, and pink and purple plumes of smoke create a soft and expectant ambience as the crowd edges closer to the stage.
Sharing it only with a laptop upon a table, decks and a lot of rogue wires, Tourist steps out. This is raw electronica. He begins with ‘Love Theme’ from new album Everyday: the perfect intro track – with its slowly ascending synth and pace. We find a moment of peace in his captivating charm. Everyone’s eyes continue to fix on him as he runs through a mix of tracks from his debut album U ‘To Have You Back’, and ‘Too Late’, along with ‘Apollo’ from Everyday.
He looks up, possibly for the first time: “Bristol, how are you guys doing?” We are doing very well, as it happens. The pulsating sounds continue from one track to the next as he plucks the decks, sending reverberations through the crowd – only pausing momentarily to take a swig of his Pinot Noir. It’s one experience listening to his music with quality headphones on, but hearing these tracks live is utterly hypnotic. This is music that is made to be heard with the intensity and immediacy of performance.
One more small swig and he delves into classics, ‘I Can’t Keep Up’ and ‘Holding On’, which make the crowd bounce. He remarks about how novel it is to be on a boat. “Only in Bristol,” he quips, before delivering an iconic remix of Wolf Alice’s ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’: an already brilliant track that is taken to an entirely new level with the Tourist treatment – a definite stand-out.
He appears to end with 2017 track, ‘We Stayed Up All Night’ from the EP Wash, before making a very brisk exit from the stage. It’s an exit that can only mean he’s not quite done, just as someone in the crowd murmurs, “He’s got to come back for ‘Run’”. And sure enough, a loud cry of ‘encore’ from an ever-expectant 400-strong crowd is his cue to step back out onto stage to play the crowd-pleasing 2016 track.
He concludes with a gracious thank you, telling us how he could never have imagined that he’d be here today, in front of 400 people, when he thinks back to his humble beginnings making music in his bedroom. But the crowd’s reaction says loud enough that we should be the one’s thanking him. A mesmerising show by an incredibly talented artist.
See the video for ‘We Stayed Up All Night’ (feat. Ardyn) here: