Live Review: Tom Grennan, Manchester

Tom Grennan, Jimmy’s, Manchester, 21 March 2019

Words and Photographs by Gary Lambert

Sometimes there are tough choices that need to be made. Do you go for fried, poached or scrambled eggs? Do you go for Spotify or Apple Music? Do you binge on Netflix in bed or on the sofa? Do you want to go to watch Tom Grennan doing a one off acoustic show at Jimmy’s? Sorry! The last one is a very easy one to answer. It’s yes all the way. I mean I love watching Tom Grennan play at the best of times, but to see him play a show in a room that’s probably smaller than some of the dressing rooms he’s had recently was a no brainer. And the best thing was that it wasn’t just TG, but we also had regular This Feeling DJ Katie O and the lads from This Is England warming the crowd up behind the decks.

After Thomas Turgoose and Andy Ellis had finished getting the crowd buzzing with a rapid fire series of indie club favourites, it was time for Manchester’s Prose to take to the stage. If you haven’t seen or heard Prose before, I’d strongly recommend that you give them a chance. Their mix of indie anthem and rapping is definitely influenced by Jamie T, but their lyrics of kitchen sink drama, council estate life, and caravan holidays are 100% Prose and hit this lad right where they should. Every line brought to forth memories of people, events, and tall tales, but even more so awoke feelings of empathy, understanding and appreciation. It made me want to give get on stage and give Mike and Lee massive hugs

Between Prose and Tom Grennan, Katie O battered us with a series of older numbers that would make statues dance followed by some more singalong classics, but the biggest moment of her set was undoubtedly playing Gerry Cinnamon’s She’s A Belter. The reaction in this little room to Britain’s biggest independent act was insane.

Unlike most other art forms, music allows for a communal spirit which may be at odds with the subject matter or performance. This gig was an amazing example of just that. It was nowhere near the best Tom Grennan could perform, which, given he forgot some lyrics due to the effects of jetlag on his mind, I think he would agree with. But it was a special, special night for two reasons. Firstly, the lack of security barriers, bouncers and photographer pit meant that Tom Grennan could interact with his fans a lot easier than he has been able to in a couple of years; and the stripped down acoustic set meant that the power of Tom’s voice was able to take centre stage without battling against any other instrument.

It is an exciting time in the world of Tom Grennan for sure. The amount of times he mentioned about the new music he was recording was bordering on fanatical. It was not a man who was making sure he corporately stayed on message, but an artist passionate about his newest work, desperate to show it to the world. It’ll soon be time, and if it surpasses tracks like Found What I’ve Been Looking For and Sober then we are going to be heading for some halcyon days.

My personal highlight of the set was not one of Tom’s own songs though despite me singing along throughout the set, but rather a cover of You Know I’m No Good by Amy Winehouse. The euphemistic analysis of a complicated and horrible life situation suited the natural cheek and streetwise personality that Tom Grennan has in abundance. And any song written by Amy Winehouse is always going to be a good test of a vocalist with those talented souls who are able to compete with Amy getting pushed to higher levels than usual by the structure.

It was also good to see Tom Grennan dressed in something on stage other than a white vest like your grandad the first time he went to Spain. The Adidas tracksuit and Prada trainers made him look like he was going on a first date to the cinema instead. We in the audience were lucky enough to be his date for the night.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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