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Tom Odell

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In Aberdeen, Odell woos his young audience, alternating between powerful and pensive.

Image of Tom Odell

@ Music Hall, Aberdeen (for True North Festival), Sat 26 Sep 2015

The female teenage demographic is a domineering presence here tonight, and while this is a cause for trepidation in the older half of the audience, a dense mist of Chanel Coco and Mark Jacobs perfume swarming uncomfortably around them, they are recompensed by the fact that there are virtually no queues at the two venue bars, and the gents toilets remain remarkably clean and empty.

In the hall itself phones are in the air, friends taking selfies with one another as opening act Siobhan Wilson plays an acoustic set of mostly original material. It is difficult not to be dazzled by her sparkling silver top, which becomes more of a focal point than the music itself; though generally agreeable and easy to listen to, attention does begin to wander as anticipation of the main act grows.

Eventually Odell and his band take the stage, albeit slightly late, but they are forgiven as they launch into an opening song of pitch-perfect vocal harmonies, prefiguring the high quality performance that is to follow. They jump into I Know next, the drums being added into the mix, and play what turns out to be the best song of the night. Unburdened by the constraints of radio and album track times, it is notably lengthier than the recorded version, with the build-up and climax of the song given the time and intensity that it rightfully deserves. Odell’s vocals soar beautifully (with the assistance of the venue’s acoustics) over the rest of the band and it is evident that he is in total control.

Towards the middle of the performance things do begin to sag slightly as some of the songs take on a weepy tone, heartbreak and longing unashamedly wallowed in. It is all too much for one particular young girl who is sat on the floor near the back of the hall, face in her hands as her friend consoles her with an arm around the shoulder. Luckily, vitality is restored at the end as Odell plays his cover of The Beatles’ Real Love, his version famously being featured in a John Lewis Christmas advert, and his top ten UK single Another Love (which currently has an astonishing eighty-four million views on YouTube).

As the evening comes to a close, the band concludes with a collateral jam session, the two female backing singers taking over vocals, with drums, guitar, bass, and piano, consolidating into one great wall of noise. It becomes welcomingly apparent that removed from the artificial sheen that surrounds contemporary chart music, this is a very talented group of musicians who seem to be having a good time, and Odell at the forefront is a songwriter who deserves to be up there with the best of his generation.