Tom Walker. A BRIT Award winning acoustic pop star who became massive in the mainstream charts with the release of his major single “Leave A Light On” and his debut album, “What A Time To Be Alive”, which reached Number 1 in the UK Album Charts. With those numbers, he’s certainly an artist not to be messed with.
Tonight, he performed at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, a very intimate venue for an artist as big as him.
The lights go down as the crowd screams and Tom’s band come onto the stage, followed by Walker who says “Nottingham, how we feeling?”, provoking a scream from the crowd as we hear “Not Giving In”, which started the show wonderfully. His voice was incredible, I loved the band chemistry here too, which resonated well among the 450 capacity venue. I loved Walker’s swagger while he was playing (honestly, if I was reviewing a dance show, it would be five stars!), the song sounds so much better live than it does on the record, and that’s proved even more so as Walker screams: “This is our first time back in a long time, I wanna see you jumping, I wanna see you raving!”, with the crowd responding by doing exactly that. It created such an energy in the room, it was fantastic and alongside the strobe lights, it made for a fantastic climax to the track. Going into a new song, “Stigma”, that energy continues with great production and live chemistry.
Tom then thanked the audience for coming down, said “cheers” before taking a drink, talking about how quickly the tour sold out, and how he caught a chest infection days before, then went on to say that this show is to showcase his new material. Prior to this he performs an older song, which was “Something Beautiful” and it’s a track that I’m not the biggest fan of, but it was performed well and everyone was singing along too, which was lovely to see. However, the energy that was gained from the first two songs was lost here I think. Before playing his big single, “Just You and I”, a couple in the crowd got engaged as Tom dedicated this to “the happy couple”. This was the first time tonight that I got goosebumps and I really felt the intimacy of the show. Everyone was singing along, Walker’s vocals stood out and it was a gorgeous atmosphere all the way through.
“Glory” was the second of Walker’s new songs tonight, and it was a pretty good track. It had a great chorus and Tom’s vocals were the real highlight here, and the track’s ending was sublime. This critical perfection continues with “Angels”, the opening track to Walker’s debut album, “What A Time To Be Alive”, and this sounded miles better than the original recorded version that we got on the album. The epic stadium sound resonated well into the small 450 capacity venue, more than any intimate show has, and it worked on so many levels, and the credit has to go to Tom’s sensational band for their incredible chemistry, and another big standout was the vocals from both the band and Walker himself. This was by far the highlight of the night for me.
Tom then plays “Serotonin”, his comeback single, and this isn’t as strong as all of the other track’s he’s performed this evening, but the actual live performance was great. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember much about the overall track other than the fact that it sounded generic. Now, this is where the show starts to go south, as Tom continues to talk through his set, as he has done throughout the show, for me killing any momentum built up. While describing his next song, “Better Half Of Me”, which he performed acoustically, he talks all about his fiancee and how much he loves her. The audience, loved it, as the room filled with “aww”s, including one fan who aww’d at the wrong time, stopping Tom mid-performance as the audience laughed and Walker tried to keep his composure, carrying on, with that person saying “I feel like a tw*t” a little bit louder than I think she expected. The performance itself though, was performed very nicely, with some great vocals and made for a wonderful sing-a-long for the audience.
After Walker talked for a couple of mins about how his guitar technician couldn’t make the gig, “Wait For You” was performed next, a song that he said was the best song he’s ever written, so when we eventually got to the performance, we got some fantastic band chemistry, great vocals and the crowd engaging with Walker by clapping in the finale, which was hyped up significantly by the band, was a waste of time and ended up letting me down musically. After talking again for a bit, he finally goes into another new song, “Freaking Out”, which started vocally off but picked up. The lyrics sounded like your standard Ed Sheeran-esque track, and the atmosphere turned into that sort of show, which was for me disappointing.
“Cheers!”, Walker says again to the audience again, and then showcases his final new song of the evening: “Universal Love”, which I can’t really describe if I’m being honest because it just wasn’t memorable. It was an average song performed mediocrely, what I can remember is that its finale had remnants of Snow Patrol’s “Run”, it just wasn’t memorable. After coming back onto the stage because of the 30-second encore, Tom once again thanked everyone for coming and performed his big hit: “Leave A Light On”, and this ended the show wonderfully, with every member of the audience getting their phone out to record the song. The opening was calm, collected and peaceful and by the end, the energy arrived in bucketloads, making this a great finale.
So Tom Walker’s performance tonight for me was incredibly hit-and-miss. It began so well that it was on track for a five-star review but a lot of the newer material failed to have any impact on me. That being said, when the set was great, Tom was brilliant and with album number two due, based on the songs played tonight, it will be interesting to see if the album is as much a critical success as it should be commercially.
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