Live Review: Tom Grennan – Liverpool

Tom Grennan

Leaf, Liverpool, 4th October 2017

Words: Gary Lambert
Photos: Elena Katrina

 

When a touring gig above a bar/café sells out two months before the artist is due to step foot on the stage, you know there is going to be a certain level of expectation regarding the night. Sell out gigs are usually populated by people who would not usually turn out for a show on a Wednesday night for an artist who has not yet released an album – and those people demand entertainment.

 

As us hip kids at Popped Music had an interview lined up, we turned up at the venue about an hour before the doors were open. We were not the first people there. Standing next to the closed door in the rain were fifteen to twenty Tom Grennan fans of a variety of ages. Neither Elena nor I had the heart to tell them that the venue was pretty small, and the entrance is at the front, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good view. It was worth them queueing up and getting though for the excitement that came from meeting Tom Grennan and getting photographs taken with him.

 

It really hit home at the end of the night as I listened to the audience singing along with a guitar riff, but Tom Grennan at Leaf was like a big event gig – but squeezed into a small room. You had a cracking light show, roaring singalongs, and at the back of the crowd people dancing around. It was brilliant.

 

But before we get to the meat of the Tom Grennan set, we first had to watch Lily Moore. I had not heard her before we stood watching her at soundcheck, but as soon as she started to sing I reached for my iPhone to get a message out on Twitter, “when Tom Grennan tells you to listen to a singer, you stop and list. Get to Leaf before 8.30 to hear Lily Moore. Pure talent!!”

 

I’m taking full credit for the big audience that was there for her set by the way. And they were not disappointed. As soon as Lily started to sing, even the chatters at the back stuttered (albeit for a moment.) It turned out that this Tom Grennan tour has been her first time out on the road, but you would not have thought it by the quality of the performance. I did not feel the need to get out of my seat, I was worried that watching her on stage and have to take in more than just the sound would mean I missed out, so I sat back and closed my eyes and let her warm tones fill the room. For such a young person, her voice has an experienced jazz timbre. The first lazy comparison I thought of was Amy Winehouse, but whereas the late and great Miss Winehouse had that beautiful sneer, Lily’s voice has a ballsy aggression to it. There is a release coming up from Lily Moore, it is brilliant, but someone is taking the Mickey with the title. It’s called Not That Special. It’s wrong.

 

As soon as Tom Grennan took to the stage the atmosphere was electrified. Even with only his backing band, you can easily get an appreciation of how Tom described his forthcoming epic debut record. The musical girders that the songs are built on are made for to be wrapped with the warm beauty of say a choir or an orchestra. In a room of only 300 people, it should have felt intimate, instead it felt like unfathomably grand, and as the crowd started to sing with him en masse at only the second song. By the time he played Lighting Matches, I was waiting for a wall to slide away and a field packed with people to be unveiled. It was proper festival music in October and it sounded enormous!

 

During the interview with Tom, he was so enthusiastic about the album that is soon to be dropped, and as soon as possible he was telling the audience how they only had to wait until 9 March to get their hands on it, but that it was also available to pre-order now. “Buy it, let’s get to number one together. We will take them all on” was his clarion call which his fans lapped up. In fact with the power of feeling in the room, I’d be amazed if at least one or two people didn’t make the pre-order there and then. The enthusiasm was contagious.

 

Tom Grennan is a very popular guy in Liverpool, and one of the things that Liverpool wanted was to hear a song that would not be on Tom’s list of favourites. “I don’t really like this song any more, but it got a great reaction last time we came to Liverpool, so I couldn’t not play it”. I could understand why Tom had outgrown the sound of Old Songs as it was more like early period Jamie T than the likes of Found What I’ve Been Looking For – but the crowd lapped it up.

 

Now, Found What I’ve Been Looking For was the killer track of the night in my opinion. It was this song that proved beyond a doubt that this guy has what it takes to crossover all kinds of musical clans. Like watching Blossoms play Charlemagne, the crowd roared along with every note during the guitar intro. It made me certain that Tom Grennan is not just couples’ music – which was a worry of mine because I was surrounded by handholding duos throughout the evening. It’s music for lads who look and act like Tom Grennan too. Although I would guess that those lads do not have voices like him because that raspy, raging vocal is a one in a million that makes him stand out from the crowd easily.

 

Tom Grennan is a magnificent performer. Get a ticket for his next tour whilst you can. And make sure you mark 9 March 2018 in your diaries. You’ve got an album to buy so that we can all take on the charts together.

 

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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