Tom Odell for War Child’s BRITs Week @ Omeara, London
War Child and the BRIT Awards relationship has been a part of the music calendar for over 10 years, giving fans the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in music in some of the UK’s most intimate venues, all to raise money and awareness for children whose lives have been torn apart by conflict and war.
At first glance at the venue, an old Victorian railway arch in the heart of Central London, it was difficult to imagine the same level of energy of a standard Tom Odell gig, with band in tow, would transfer into the Omeara in London Bridge. Boy was I wrong.
Of course it was different, just Tom and his piano with a room of 350 people, rather than the 5,000 capacity venues that he is used to playing, but where there should have been a heavy bass drum throughout a rowdier song, Tom made use of what I imagine was a stomp box, a small wooden box plugged into an amplifier which allows the user to stomp on it, making the noise of a bass drum.
“I’ve been on tour for what feels like f**king ages now, so I wanted to do something special just for tonight”, Tom announced after opening with bonus track ‘Heal’ from his 2013 debut album Long Way Down. He then went on to explain that tonight, his setlist would take us on a chronological journey through his three albums, Long Way Down, 2016’s Wrong Crowd and his latest album released in October of last year Jubilee Road.
Tom then played ‘Behind The Rose’, a B-Side to 2014 single ‘I Know’, Sirens, before finishing the debut album section of the set with ‘Grow Old With Me’, explaining before the song how much it meant to him when couples come up to him in the street and tell him that they had the song as their first dance, and that it made him feel like he was a part of their life.
Tom went on to introduce the ‘difficult second album’ section of the show, telling the crowd that he wrote the album amid the success of his debut, in a whirlwind of fame, appearing on chat shows all over the world, travelling from hotel room to hotel room, wondering if the thing that he had sought after for most of his life was really what he wanted.
Opening with Prince-esque ‘Concrete’, moving onto Wrong Crowd and then Magnetised, putting that stomp box to good use for the thumpier parts of the songs, and to let the audience know that now was the right time to start clapping along.
Tom then began to close his set, and the third album portion of the set, with title track ‘Jubilee Road’, telling everybody how this album was written after Tom had moved into a house in London and finally became domesticated, even going on a tangent about getting confused as to when to put the bins out and asking why the world doesn’t have a universal bin day.
45 minutes of bin men and road sweeper stories later, Tom performed a solo version of his duet with Alice Merton ‘Half As Good As You’, a brand new song about turning 28, aptly titled ‘28’, before closing with crowd favourite, and perhaps his most well known single, ‘Another Love’.
It was definitely an amazing opportunity for die-hard Tom Odell fans to see him in such an intimate environment, playing stripped back versions of his hits, and a great way for War Child to raise money and awareness for their cause, inviting young people that have had their lives changed by the work that War Child do to speak to crowds before all of the BRIT Week gigs. It was so eye opening to hear about the effect that conflict can have on someone at such a young age, and I hope that the important work that War Child do does not go unnoticed.