The piano man has come out of his shell

Have you ever been to a Tom Odell gig?

If you haven’t, you probably should – they tend to be rather good. If you saw him when he was touring his debut album Long Way Down, though, you could be forgiven for thinking that he’s not entirely comfortable with being in the spotlight.

We’re not quite sure why, but that was certainly the impression we got from him. Maybe it was the way he sat hunched over his piano, with his blond hair flopping over his face as he belted out a succession of mournful piano ballads. Perhaps it was his limited crowd interaction, or the way he jammed his eyes tightly shut for the duration of each song. Heck, maybe it was just the always-slightly-scared look on his face that gave it away.

 

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Back then, he looked quite a lot like this

The times they are a-changin’

Because of this, we weren’t really sure what to expect when we went to see him last week at the Plymouth Pavilions. Would we be greeted by the same reluctant star we saw three years ago? Would he be a quivering wreck, necking wine by the bottle to help him to get through an hour-and-a-half long set? Would his fringe have grown down to his knees? We had a lot of questions, and we hoped to hell that we’d like what we saw.

Well, dear reader, we’ve got some news for you. We’re not sure how, or when, but Tom Odell appears to have blossomed into a fully-fledged pop star.

 

 

He’s practically unrecognisable

The plaid shirts have been replaced by sharp suits and an even sharper haircut. The awkwardness has been swapped out for a new-found ease, and a natural charm that’s allowed to shine through when he casually chats to the crowd between songs. As for the songs? Well, they’ve changed a fair bit, too. Yes, he still has his sad moments – the touching Constellations, for example, is a highlight of the night – but the majority of the tracks he airs from his sophomore album Wrong Crowd are more influenced by disco-funk than heartbreak, and they’re all the better for it.

 

 

It’s the new songs that are the highlight

Indeed, if we had to pick a highlight of the night, it would be Wrong Crowd‘s lead single, Magnetised. As songs go, it’s rather good – a catchy-as-hell refrain, some pounding drums, and a brilliantly building pre-chorus all work together to create what can best be described as three-and-a-half minutes of pure pop goodness.

Live, though, it’s an entirely different beast. It’s given an immediacy that’s lacking from the studio version, helped to no end by Odell bounding across the stage like a man possessed. It’s hard to tear your eyes away from him; one moment he’s hopping off-stage to jump into the crowd, and the next he’s leaping on top of his piano and breaking out some serious dad-dancing moves.

 

 

You really do need to go and see him

We’re going to spell this out for you: you need to see Tom Odell live. He’s gone from being an awkward singer/songwriter to a fully-fledged pop star, and it suits him. He’s always had the songs, but now he’s got the stage presence to go with it – why wouldn’t you go and see him?

 

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