Review: Tom Odell @ Westonbirt Arboretum

I first encountered the beauty that is a Tom Odell concert back in October 2013 a couple of months after the release of his debut album Long Way Down. I returned home from Bristol O2 that night having never been so enthralled by a singer-songwriter before. The next morning I booked tickets to his next tour which were, luckily for my sanity, already on sale. The following February I got to experience Tom do his thing live once more and in the time between the two gigs my love of his music had grown immensely. (I even went on to write about that gig here)!

Now, here I am, still recovering from what was the third, and best, of Toms live shows I've seen to date. He's had such a transformation since I first saw him and has well and truly grown into himself. Never before had I seen Tom leave the safety of his piano in such confidence, let alone go on to jump around and sing a whole song with his two lovely backing singers. Over the years he has developed an incredible stage presence to complement the voice we know so well.

The idea of having a tour around some of Britain's forests just fills me with joy. Never before have I had the chance to experience live music outdoors encircled by trees and greenery. Arriving among the first of a few early birds meant we could stroll our way right up to the barrier with ease. I've never actually stood right at the barrier before and let me tell you I was grateful to spend the night without the usual occurrence of strands of hair from the person in front of me flying into my face on regular occasions.

Very different but equally impressive performances from Alfie Connor and Rae Morris brought the evening to life. Both had a different approach to how they performed, each complemented by their style of music. It was also lovely to see that alongside their band, the pair played their own instruments and thoroughly enjoyed their time on stage. A field full of people in pop up chairs with a beer in hand swiftly became a field full of people up on their feet dancing, having eagerly downed their beers in joy. The music was well and truly foot-stompingly good- bringing that classic adjective back from my last Tom Odell post!

With a set list that was a mix of both old & new and upbeat & slow, the crowd was greeted with a night of laughter and dancing as the sun slowly went down over Westonbirt. A splash of rain whilst queueing was enough to panic everyone into whipping waterproof ponchos over their heads but it passed over as quickly as it arrived. A weather forecast that anticipated thunderstorms didn't predict a very positive outcome but we were blessed with a dry and cool evening. No need for any anoraks or welly boots at Westonbirt!!

I have never been more pleased in my life than I was when I heard the opening 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4 of Hold Me. If my all time favourite hadn't been on the set list my heart probably would have suffered. Newer songs that don't feature on Long Way Down (but will hopefully feature on his new album!), including Friday Night, Resist, Constellations and Somehow were met with wide appreciation. They were a real highlight of just how far Tom has come as a musician.

Now I lie in wait, yet again, for news of up and coming tour dates - or perhaps, dare I say it, a new album? If I remember correctly, I ended my post last February in hope of a new album that year in 2014. TWENTY FOURTEEN. That was like, what, a whole year ago?? I have high hopes for new music if it's anything like we heard last Saturday. Go Tom, you well and truly smashed it again.

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