Artists that interact well with their audience tend to put on the most exciting shows. Singer-songwriter and piano master Tom Odell took this concept to another level at Boston’s Brighton Music Hall last week. Mid-set, he took a break from playing on the keys and greeted the audience at the very front of the stage for “Hold Me.” Fans made a path for him to come down into the center of the already-intimate venue as he motioned to the entire room that they should crouch and sit down. He handed a nearby teen girl his microphone and she happily took over the lyrics with quite an impressive voice. She sang one verse and tried to hand the mic back to him but he nudged her to finish the entire song. What an experience for that lucky fan…If only I could sing. To top the rest of the song off, he climbed back on stage and jumped on top of the baby grand to belt out the remaining notes. Unreal.
Prior to the climax of the night, Tom opened with “Jubilee Road,” the leading track from his new album of the same name. I immediately knew it was going to be an interesting performance after he dramatically tossed one of the piano little stools across the stage.
“I’m very very excited to be in Boston tonight,” Odell said. “I want to thank you for making a very very wise purchase. But not because you’re in the presence of me, but because you’re in the presence of three of the greatest musicians in the UK,” he said of his accompanying band.
The show was a nice break from the usual rock and alternative concerts that I attend. Instead, the night was filled with lots of jazz, soul, and vulnerable emotion from such a passionate musician. It was extremely clear how much his mean to him; each song was sung with so much heart that he had to continually wipe the sweat dripping down his face.
Tom is clearly a performer who absolutely loves what he does. He was also quite comical without even trying. The audience laughed a bunch at short, silly comments that he made throughout the evening, like, “I enjoy playing piano.” Tom, with your level of talent, we already know that.
My favorite part of the concert was when he played an unfinished song called “Girls Without Fathers” for the second time ever. He explained that playing unfinished music live influences his songwriting process to some degree. He also warned the audience, “It’s quite heavy. I mean what did you expect—these are heavy times.” The crowd let out a laugh signifying their agreement.
He sang the brutal lyrics with a roar in his voice, “They wipe their tears and they rub their eyes // But the girls without fathers cry tears that never dry,” and, “The dogs they howl and the men they fight. // It’s the girls without fathers who always pay the price.” When the song ended, the crowd was speechless and he broke the silence by stating, “See, I told you it was heavy.”
The first song of his encore began as the groovy “Son of an Only Child,” and smoothly transitioned into “Fur Elise,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and then right back to the original tune. He then sang “Concrete” and before playing his final and most well-known song, “Another Love,” he thanked the audience with, “I haven’t come to play here in many years. Thank you, Boston, for letting us jam. I hope that you have the most wonderful rest of your night.”
While I was waiting for my Uber following the show, I heard a young girl say “That had to have been one of the coolest concerts of my life.” I don’t blame her, and I’ve been to a hell of a lot of concerts.
Featured Image: Emily Grinberg