Saturday the 24th of August was one of those beautiful, sunny and warm summer days to which we Spaniards are used to but in Germany is was a rare relief. It was also the day Tom Odell returned to play a concert in Cologne. But this time, it was in a completely different atmosphere and venue than his last concert in the German city. The stage was located in the middle of the ring road, where traffic is only cut twice a year: the Carnival and Gamescom. The Brit was Saturday's headliner at the Gamescom City Festival, and played right after Frau Wolf, The Fog Joggers and Daniel Donskoy.
Tom Odell belongs to a group of artists that although their music sounds wonderful on a record, it’s even more dynamic live. The truth is that for an artist with such sand and haunting lyrics, his ability to play the role of a rock star on stage may come a bit as a surprise to most people. His concerts are not what you except they’d be when you listen to his music. They are completely different. They are a stunning mix of acting, drama, a bit of rockier music and soft melodies. As he told us in an interview a couple of months ago, the person he is on stage is an exaggerated version of himself.
Tom and the band came on stage at 21:20, on time. The Brit was not wearing his classic suit, instead he chose skinny jeans, a black t-shirt, a jacket and a big smile on his face. From the very first chords of “I Know” the audience was completely entranced… cheering, singing and dancing along with the music. The ballads, which are nearly heart-breaking, are followed by much more rocky songs, which make Tom stand up from his stool to play the piano wildly.
The street where the stage is located was completely packed with people. The advantage of playing in a venue like this, in a wide avenue within the city, is that with that much light coming from the lampposts and even a Burger King, from the stage you can see everything and everybody standing in front of you. It might make it easier to get some interaction with the audience, because the truth is that on Saturday Tom was quite chatty during the concert. He even gave it a try to some words in German. During “Hold Me”, he asked the crowd if they had someone they love next to them to hug them tight, quickly adding that nobody should worry if they didn’t because in that case, they were just like him, and he kind of gave himself a hug.
Something else to highlight about Odell’s concerts is that two of his live shows are never going to be exactly the same. From VAVEL we were also covering his concert last week at the ZeltFestival Ruhr in Bochum, Germany and within a week he has changed at least five songs from the setlist. It quite gives the impression that he kind of adapts his choices regarding what to play to the audience or to what he feels like playing each night. And many times he even decides to change the setlist while he is already on stage, which surprisingly doesn’t seem to drive the band, formed by Max Goff (bass guitar), Max Clilverd (electric guitar) and Toby Couling (drums), crazy. They are so used to playing together that the band can completely follow Tom with any song that comes to his mind to play next, as they showed last week in Bochum. It proves the great work and understanding they have as a team.
The song that was coming just before the encore was “Son of an Only Child”, from his latest album, “Jubilee Road”. It was such an energetic performance which was followed sudden and extreme change of rhythm to play Beethoven’s “Für Elise”, showing his perfect ability to change radically from cheerful to melancholic in a second. Right after, Tom played a cover of “Piano Man” by Billy Joel, which both the artist and the audience really enjoyed. Specially, in the third verse when the lyric goes: “it's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday, and the manager gives me smile. Cause he knows that it's me they've been coming to see to forget about life for a while". Odell giggled, probably realizing it was Saturday night, and the audience took the opportunity to cheer.
The very few moments along the night that Tom didn’t have his hands on the piano, he was singing and dancing around the stage or even on top of his piano. His good mood was contagious and on several occasions he encouraged the audience to take out their “wild side” and start dancing. The concert ended, once again, with his most famous song, “Another Love”, a track that could not be lacking on the setlist.
After all, the night was spectacular and people had so much fun on the concert. Once again Tom Odell has made it clear that he is an artist that everyone has to go and see live at least once. He creates concerts that are different, opposite from the typical ones and from what you expect from him to do. Live shows that differ from many others and will remain in the memory of the audience and in their hearts.
If anyone, after reading this review, has decided they have to go and see Tom Odell live, do not wait much, his festival season and world tour is going to be over soon, and he only has two more concerts to go. The next one will be in Madrid, at the DCODE Festival, the 7th of September and the second one at the Pub in the Park festival in St. Albans, England, not far from London.
1. I Know
3. Still Getting Used to Being on my Own
4. Half as Good as You
7. Grow Old with Me
8. Can't Pretend
9. Hold Me
10. Son of an Only Child / Für Elise / Piano Man
11. Go Tell Her Now
14. Another Love