Tom Odell has managed to do it again. Everyone who attended his concert last night at the Zeltfestival Ruhr in the German city of Bochum ended up with goosebumps thanks to his voice, his drama and his perfection playing the piano.
Tom Odell is music, the melody and the lyrics - the deep meanings behind everything he writes and the emotions he conveys through the chords. And his live shows are enchanting. Pure magic. And last night he didn't disappoint. He brought it all.
The band jumped on stage around 20:15 to start playing the first chords of "Sparrow", a song he doesn't use on a regular basis to open up the concerts, so none of the fans at the Zeltfestival expected it to be the first song of the night. Followed by "I Know", a song from his first album that starts off slow but then the tempo gradually rises and ends up with Tom getting up and throwing his stool on the other side of the stage. All the while, he played the piano wildly and sung at the top of his lungs. The third song of the evening was "Still Getting Used to Being on My Own", accompanied by flashing lights following the rhythm of the piano beats to give the show a much more dramatic touch.
Something Tom Odell always does in his live shows is presenting all the members of the band one by one and giving each of them their starring moment within the concert. And he did so just after the third song. He introduced Max Goff on the bass, Max Clilverd on the guitar and Toby Couling on the drums.
The concert moved forward with one of his newest songs, "Half as Good as You", produced on the album as a duet with Alice Merton. Followed by a surprise, Tom played a beautiful ballad called "Behind the Rose", with the piano and the harmonica whilst singing. Even though he apologised at the end of the song for how badly he had played the harmonica, the truth is he created a special ambience and a totally magical moment. This song is not included in any of his three studio albums and it's rare that he performs it live, hence 'surprise'.
The next track was another sad and beautiful ballad called "Your Gonna Break My Heart Tonight", a song from his newest album, "Jubilee Road", which he also doesn't play live often. When we interviewed him last November, he talked about this specific song and said, "very sad song to me because it’s about a very painful memory". The following three tracks also kept the slow rhythm, the beginning of "Long Way Down" which he connected with "Grow Old With Me", both songs from his first album, and "Can't Pretend".
Tom Odell was incredibly energetic last night. If he wasn't playing the piano, he was on top of it or moving around the stage non-stop as he danced and sang. During "Hold Me", the Brit took a microphone with a long cable so he could get off the stage at a folding table in front of it and get closer to his fans. And he held on for a while as he repeated with the audience singing with him: "Oh when you hold me, when you hold me in your arms", part of the final lyrics of the song.
And right after, was the highlight of the night. The last song before the encore was "Son of An Only Child", one of the songs he most enjoys playing live, as he told us in an interview. The audience was totally enthusiastic and clapping their hands throughout the song, and when Tom tried to stop the rhythm to play "Für Elise" on the piano the audience did not stop and after three chords of Beethoven's music he gave up and decided to continue with a cover of "Get Back" by The Beatles. The glances and smiles between Tom, Max, Max and Toby suggested that this was not planned and a moment of free play was about to start. At the end of the song, Odell said "I have no idea where we're going with this" and began to play another cover, "Rockin' All Over The World" by Status Quo. Here there is a video of the end of "Son of an Only Child" and both covers.
This is one of those moments that make Tom Odell's concerts unique. Going to two of his live shows within the same tour does not mean you are going to see the same concert twice. There is always something different, some unexpected surprises to look forward to.
When Tom and the band returned on stage after a short break they still had tons of energy left for the last songs of the night. They started to play "See If I Care", another of those songs that are not on any album, which, in fact, doesn't even have a studio produced version. The reason is that they have not managed to get a recorded version of the song they are satisfied with so they have decided to leave it as a live song. To play this track, Tom didn't sit at the piano, instead he was moving from side to side of the stage "dancing", or at least trying to, in quite a funny way. The next song was "Concrete", for which he didn't sit at the piano either, but stood with a standing microphone at the centre of the stage.
The second last song of the night was "Somehow", a beautiful ballad included in his second album that he quite enjoys to play live and about which he told us a couple of months ago in an interview: "I always think when I play that song live, it feels like we transcend into a different place, it feels quite meaningful and it has a lot of depth to it". The concert ended with his most famous song, which made him well-known around the world and that every person in the audience knew and sang along with, "Another Love".
There are certain artists who have something special, they may not fill stadiums and play for 70,000 people in one night, but their concerts represent a before and after, and Tom Odell is one of them. His songs somehow touch you inside and listening to them live makes them even more magical, transporting you to another world even if it is only for an hour and a half. It may be the first time you've seen Tom Odell live, or you may have been to many of his concerts and you would still be surprised by a perfect mix of soft melodies, an excellent show, some improvisation and a masterfully played piano.