THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18

THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

 

 

 

Words by Ed King / Pics by Eleanor Sutcliffe

This is a big gig.

It’s a big room too, as I watch the audience trickle in – from a line that stretches back to the Pagoda island roundabout, the 3009 capacity O2 Academy confidently fills up on a Sunday. No, mean, feat either. Especially in Birmingham. Especially on a Sunday.

But the Tom Odell love fest is in unarguable full swing tonight, as shoulder touches shoulder in the stalls and every polite space gets filled on the balcony. This gig wasn’t presented as ‘sold out’ but it hard to imagine any fire marshal letting another body in this room. This is a rafter packed affair. So I find my THE GALLERY: First support act for Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffecorner, nestle in, and watch the support acts.

First up is Mimi… I want to say ‘croissant’. Which I doubt it is, but I’ll have to Google and cross reference. Singing a mix of her own songs and covers, the ubiquitous ‘Valerie’ getting a non-X Factor audition airing, she delivers her “first gig playing my own songs,” with reputable aplomb. A young vocalist with an older guitar, time will tell. But art gather scars to shine, and only the world will give you them. TBC.

Next up is my happy surprise of the night, well the first one of them anyway, as no other that Max Jury struts on stage as the second support act. ‘Great American Novel’ is always somewhere near the back of my mind and on the tip of my tongue these days, and despite it not getting featured in his set I do get to see a man live on stage I thought I’d need to have passed through LAX security to watch up close in person.

THE GALLERY: Max Jury - supporting Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Jury is great too, and not just because I want him to be, but the slow Americana, blues, and drawl slides from his keyboard and across the room with the right touch of confidence and bliss. Musicians are made to impress, and Max Jury is one to applaud. Plus, I now (after a very subtle pitch) own a copy of his signature – so at worst I’m going to rinse hotel room bills in his name across Washington state until one of us gets noticed.

And now, it is time…

There has been a grand piano covered in black cloth ever since we walked into this room, with one support act playing to its left and the other to its right. But now it’s the main show, with the sleek polished veneer unveiled as the house lights go down and a single spot illuminates the piano and rounded stool. Like a tousled haired shadow, Tom Odell appears at the ivory and throws soft hammers onto hidden strings; we are welcomed with the title track off his new album – ‘Jubilee Road’ saunters in until a sustained vocal, raised hand, full band, and rapturous applause bring the main attraction crystal clear into view.

THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeI’ll be honest, I love the piano. I’m a sucker for the piano. But I’m often on my own with such sultry appreciation, as most 88 key diatribes fall short upon the ears of those less bruised. Or those more happy, I’ve never quite worked out which. But for Tom Odell, and the 3k+ that have turned out to see him tonight, this is not a concern, as the set moves without banter from the title track of his new album to the fifth single from his first – more sustained vocals, and the beginning of some simply heart-breaking audience participation, carry us into the main set.  This is a spectacular introduction.

Levels are up, chairs are thrown, and ‘Sparrow’ ends off a phenomenal beginning – as ‘Supposed to Be’ then leads us into an introduction of each band member, delivered like an homage to Robbie Robertson and his long bus riding companions. But this is an ensemble, regardless of the dominant and linchpin, with the ringmaster making every effort to bring his cohorts font and centre, leaving his black and white compadres to stand next to each instrument that accompanies them as he does so. This is a band on stage tonight, and we are firmly told not to forget that.

THE GALLERY: Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeMy notes from the rest of the evening run from sycophantic to spider scrawl, both run induced. But there are a few golden markers that deserve a more sober mention – Tom Odell has the O2 Academy in his palm tonight, from start to finish. He makes a big room feel intimate, with unenforced sing-a-longs washing over us like warm blankets that you just want to weep inside of.

The first, according to my notebook, is with ‘Wrong Crowd’, where the bravest of us both onstage and off try to whistle along. But it continues, throughout, carried by an atmosphere that even this cynical writer can’t help but fall for. I had no idea the O2 Academy would be so full tonight, and I had no idea that the bodies within it would care so much. But by the time ‘Son of an Only Child’ is played, one of my favourites from the new album, I am bunched up with a line of strangers on the balcony – resting our hands on each other’s shoulders and basking in the soft lights of a moment’s unity. This is what music can do, and when it does it in a room of over three thousand people it’s a pretty fucking wonderful occasion.

We end with a good three song encore, which could easily have carried on if the licensing department of the UK’s second city weren’t such a loveless box of frogs. Even the Showsec security guard has left his post to stand and watch this finale.

And as the ensemble eventually leave the stage, to the echoes of ‘Magnetised’ being thrown back at them in an oddly grandiose yet sweet harmony, we all know that we bore witness to something special tonight.

 

 

 

Tom Odell @ O2 Academy 21.10.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Gallery not found.

 

For more on Tom Odell, visit www.tomodell.com 

For more from Max Jury, visit www.maxjury.com 

For more from the O2 Academy, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

________

NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

ALBUM: Jubilee Road – Tom Odell 12.10.18

ALBUM: Jubilee Road – Tom Odell 12.10.18 / Pic courtesy of Columbia RecordsWords by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Columbia Records

This is a big record.

Although despite the grandeur that unfurls, Jubilee Road shuffles into the first and title track with gentle keys – setting the scene of Tom Odell’s own ‘Eleanor Rigby’ ode to London, albeit one with a sprinkle of Martin Amis. 

It’s been over two years since Odell’s last LP, and five since his debut. Not that we’re counting. But the staggering of artistic expression requires some chronology, and what do you do after your 88 fingers have been shaken, stamped on, and poked into screens across the pond and back again. Twice. You go home or you go big. Jubilee Road does both.

The album’s second track, and it’s lead single, the f-word infused ‘If You Wanna Love Somebody’ (even the radio play) continues to ramp things up – bringing a gospel undercurrent to a Jackson Browne flavored call to the heart. It’s a little obvious, to a cynic like myself, but I can see it covered in enough Christmas and Jamie Cullem sideways glances to do alright without me.

Then the storytelling returns with ‘Son of an Only Child’, in a track the seethes with what I can only presume is honesty. Or a fucking, good, lie. I’ll admit, it’s my favourite from the album – due in part to a steady melody that grows from a shadow to a monster, but more so because I know that bar. I know me in that bar, listening to that man and forming cannonballs to throw at strangers within reaching distance. I believe the frustration, the maudlin anger; I believe this track. So, I believe the album. Plus the lyrical hat tip to Taupin/John is a nice touch – and one better owned that brought to the floor by cynics like me.

Jubilee Road continues to bounce from self-effacing laments, to the dissection of a broken world we all tip toe through. Or round. Or away from. But the backbone of confident ivory, high octane vocals and visceral lyrics keeps this album from ever falling short – with the flows outweighing the ebbs in a comparison barrage of Tom Waits-meets-Elton John-at-a-Billy Joel-barbeque.

The obligatory label mate duet is well delivered on ‘Half as Good as You’, with Alice Merton sounding more like Florence Welch that Florence Welch. And even if Tom Odell is “tired of eating breakfast on my own,” it seems to make for some pretty good source material. Heaven help album four if the lad finds true love.

But the (second) best is saved until last, and whilst my mum is still alive I do have an older sister and the understanding of vicarious pride. Odell’s open diary/songbook is what makes Jubilee Road flourish and no more so than in its closing track, ‘Wedding Day’. It’s heartbreaking. It’s honest. It made me cry. And to round off my somewhat clunky framing technique, it’s the flashlight through the mist that sails this LP home.

‘Wedding Day – Tom Odell (live at Rough Trade NYC)

On Friday 12th October, Tom Odell releases Jubilee Road – out via Columbia Records. For more on Tom Odell, including link to online sales, visit www.tomodell.com

Tom Odell will be playing at the O2 Academy Birmingham on 21st October, as part of his Jubilee Road Tour. For more gig information, and links to online tickets sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham/tom-odell-tickets 

For more from Columbia Records, visit www.columbia.co.uk

________

NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

THE GALLERY: New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17

New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review

Words & pics by Aatish Ramchurn 

The thing with the days now getting shorter is that the moment it starts turning dark, you feel like you’re running late.

At least, that’s how I felt as I was making my way to the O2 Academy – heading out to see long-time pop punk band, New Found Glory, as they arrive in Birmingham for their 20 Years of Pop Punk tour. Turns out I wasn’t late at all, but rather ten minutes early.

ROAM - supporting New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham ReviewEach date of New Found Glory’s UK 20 Years of Pop Punk tour features tracks from two of their nine albums, plus songs from their new album, Makes Me Sick.

Birmingham’s set list would include tracks from Sticks and Stones and the self titled New Found Glory, albums which contained the more popular songs that propelled them to fame in the early 2000s.

Opening the night is Eastbourne’s five-piece, ROAM – the only support act. Soon to be releasing their second album on Hopeless Records, Great Height & Nosedives, ROAM grace the stage with an energetic set of heavy, pop punk anthems, at times encouraging circle pits.New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review Judging from the people singing at the front ROAM have been built quite a fanbase in Birmingham and, after this set, have probably gained some new ones.

On to New Found Glory, who began their career as a quintet until guitarist Steve Klein left the band in 2014. The stage darkens, and the ‘Happy Anniversary’ melody from an episode of The Flintstones plays before they storm onto the stage, opening with ‘Understatement’.

I’m fairly certain that from the start there were four photographers in the photo pit. But that number appears to have doubled about one minute later, as if we have multiplied like Mr. Meeseeks from Rick and Morty. New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham ReviewAll of us are scrambling across the photo pit as Jordan Pundik, Ian Grushka and Chad Gilbert pace across the stage, showing no signs of ever slowing down.

As well as having to watch myself not bumping into other photographers, security has to look after the flurry of oncoming crowd surfers. I guess the ‘No Crowdsurfing’ sign, usually seen in both the O2 Institute and O2 Academy, is being ignored for tonight. Needless to say, this was probably the most intense photo pit experiences I’ve had (or so I thought before KRS-One).

Although the 20 Years of Pop Punk wasn’t a sell out show tonight there is still a decent turn out, with voices from the front to the back of the room singing along in pop punk unity to ’My Friends Over You’ at the end of the set. But New Found Glory’s night in Birmingham didn’t end at the O2 Academy, as they made a brief appearance at Subside, in Digbeth, to play DJ set and take photos with some of their fans. 

 

 

 

New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham ReviewNew Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn - Birmingham Review________________

 

ROAM – supporting New Found Glory @ O2 Academy 30.09.17 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

BREVIEW: The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17

The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

 

 

 

Words by  Emily Doyle / Pics by Rob Hadley

London’s self-described ‘sunshine doom’ 5-piece, Mass Datura, serve up a set of melodic prog to begin the evening. But thanks to a surprisingly long queue for entry at the O2 Institute, complete with drug dog patrols outside the venue, their early set is enjoyed by a smaller audience than they deserved.

And while the violin and keys are a little low in the mix, they craft some interesting textures – providing some excellent fodder to ease the crowd into the evening of psych to come (Mass Datura’s debut LP Sentimental Breakdown is out now on All Types of Slime Records, should you want to fall a little deeper down the rabbit hole).

Mass Datura – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham ReviewA Place to Bury Strangers slink onto the stage next, in an unassuming manner; they seem satisfied in the knowledge that the majority of the crowd (this reviewer included) have no idea what is to come. The term ‘wall of noise’ is thrown around all too lightly but in this case it is appropriate; intense strobe lighting marks the start of their set, at 8pm sharp, and does not relent throughout the opening track. Within minutes, some audience members are forced to shield their eyes.

Lia Simone Braswell is one of those rare drummer-come-front person characters. Her kit occupies the front and centre of the stage, a vocal mic arched above her. She is a powerhouse. To her left is Oliver Ackermann of Death By Audio fame, whose distorted vocals cut through the maelstrom;A Place to Bury Strangers – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review to her right is Dion Lunadon, who indulges in some bass guitar abuse to rival the Clash’s Paul Simonon – trusting his bass into the crowd while Ackermann holds his guitar aloft, and the noise fades.

Braswell produces an autoharp. She proceeds to play a haunting tune, accompanied by delicate vocals, while Lunadon and Ackermann tune up. A Place to Bury Strangers launch back into the howling punk-rock of 2009’s ‘I Lived My Life to Stand in the Shadow Of Your Heart’ with renewed energy. In my notepad, I write the word ‘onslaught’ a total of three times at different points during their set. A Place to Bury Strangers – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

The lights dim and A Place to Bury Strangers appear to leave the stage, so the crowd migrates towards the bar to refuel before the headline act. Without warning, a driving electronic beat starts up and multi-coloured lasers erupt from a small circle over by the bar; Ackermann has wheeled a flight case into the crowd and the performance continues. Braswell’s aggressive dancing keeps us just far enough back while Lunadon climbs on top of the case, bass guitar in hand. After this extended jam, A Place to Bury Strangers dissolve into the audience once more… The room awaits The Black Angels.

‘Currency’, the opening track from The Black Angels‘ 2017 album, Death Song, is greeted by cheers. The driving two note riff cuts through the O2 Institute’s main room, with what appears to be Beelzebub’s teletext projected onto the back of the stage. The Black Angels exude a quiet, stoic confidence; a stark contrast to the territorial noise-rock of A Place to Bury Strangers. Alex Mass’s shamanic vocals are hypnotic, a perfect counterpoint to the grinding drums from Stephanie Bailey.The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

2010’s juddering ‘Bad Vibrations’ lulls the crowd into a comfortable, woozy sway. Everything about The Black Angels’ performance is equally comforting and uneasy; each track is full of the warm, swirling psychedelia of their forebears, but also buzzes with a hint of discord. On stage the band are relaxed, but choose to keep their distance with a complete absence of dialogue.

The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham ReviewThe crowd responds with an equally subdued manner; one girl dares to climb onto a friends shoulders to sway along to ‘You On The Run’ and is met by a surprising amount of disapproving British frowns. The Black Angels certainly aren’t in Texas anymore.

After an encore culminating in their breakthrough hit, ‘Young Mean Dead’, the audience files out of the O2 Institute. On my way out the door I run into Martin of Tamworth two-piece You Dirty Blue, eyeing the Death By Audio pedals on A Place to Bury Strangers’ merch stand (I later learn that grinders emblazoned with the slogan ‘Listen To The Black Angels’ were also on offer). On reflection, we both agree that although The Black Angels were as excellent as you would expect, it was A Place to Bury Strangers that were the band of the night.

 

 

 

Mass Datura – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

Mass Datura – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

Mass Datura – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

For more on Mass Datura, visit www.soundcloud.com/mass-datura

________

A Place to Bury Strangers – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

A Place to Bury Strangers – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

A Place to Bury Strangers – supporting The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

For more on A Place to Bury Strangers, visit www.aplacetoburystrangers.com

________

The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

The Black Angels @ O2 Institute 26.09.17 / Rob Hadley – Birmingham Review

For more on The Black Angels, visit www.theblackangels.com

For more from the O2 Institute, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more from Kilimanjaro Live, visit www.kilimanjarolive.co.uk

For more from This Is Tmrw, visit www.thisistmrw.co.uk