Fans lined up by the dozens in the cold outside London’s iconic concert room Hammersmith Apollo, full of impatience and excitement.Their expectations were met, if not exceeded, by Tom Odell’s exceptional performance on October 23rd.
Stepping onto the stage with a confident look and charming smile, Tom Odell was welcomed by adoring fans as he smoothly sat down to the piano – opening the concert with his new album’s title song Jubilee Road, a piano ballad, a romantic song and a declaration of love for London. Not only was the song touching, for Odell’s voice revealed a certain vulnerability and tenderness, but the lyrics reflected a moment of solitude, depicting a unique side of London. Jubilee Road conjured a sense of intimacy, making the room suddenly feel smaller and more familiar. The first few notes were crisp, fragile and yet endlessly delicate, drawing people together on the opening couplet ‘It’s a late Friday night’, which resonated in each spectator’s mind. At the end of the piece, Odell gave a few words on his attachment to the city. The songwriting process was undeniably inspired by the charm and the streets of the British capital.
The opening songs revealed a rather raw panel of emotions, mixing jazzy notes to melancholic tunes. The first scene offered the crowd a vision of a man united as one with his piano, a perfect synchronized duo expressing bittersweet emotions, evoking lonely moments of pain and emptiness. This soon gave way to a new style, transforming Odell’s innocent angel-like face. His whole expression, attitude, symbiotic movements to the keyboard swiftly took on a new beat. With an energetic, thunder-like voice Odell lit up the stage as he performed Wrong Crowd. Now standing on the piano, the pop singer was acclaimed by the fans. It seemed that he could do it all – from the heartbroken lover boy to the powerful rock star.
The most magical part was yet to be seen. As he was to jump into the next song, Odell mentioned a surprise. In the midst of the singer’s tour, London was to have a « special treat ». You’re gonna break my heart tonight welcomed a new artist on stage. A saxophonist was loudly applauded by the moved fans as he entered the stage, followed by the singer’s warm gaze. Odell’s voice was now matched by a deeper instrument – adding depth to the emotional outbreak of the song, a sense of elegance and yet desolation. The audience was then surprised a second time with an unexpected piece, Son of an only child, a tribute to Billy Joel.
By the end of the show, fans headed for the exit with their hearts still pounding in their chest after the final song, Magnetized, had been sung. The lights, the staging and the piano acoustics had enhanced Odell’s singing, seducing the crowd from beginning to end.
by Raphaëlle Camarcat