The recent trend in British pop music, growing since 2014, is for talented British solo artists to burst into public consciousness as guest vocalists on already established dance / drum’n’bass artist’s singles. Think of Sam Smith (first hitting the charts with Disclosure on Latch), John Newman (similarly with Sigala on Feel the Love) and Anne-Marie (who appeared on four tracks on Rudimental’s 2015 album We The Generation) to name just a few. Having appeared on Chase and Status’ 2016 single ‘All Goes Wrong’, it appears that Tom Grennan will soon be following this newly established route into the music mainstream. As any audience member at Tom Grennan’s sold out show in Glasgow on the 7th October will tell you, for the Bedford born singer-songwriter it can’t come soon enough.
Despite visibly struggling after being “ill as a dog” following a lengthy UK tour schedule, Grennan captivates the packed crowd of St Luke’s Church this Saturday night with his unique vocals, charismatic stage presence and visible excitement for his own music. Kicking off the show with his latest single ‘Royal Highness’ Tom clearly has the crowd on his side from the start. As the set continues, his sense of connection with the audience only increases as his honest, self-deprecating style comes to the fore.
The tempo of the set is controlled and varies impressively: from the up-beat festival-ready anthems (such as ‘Lighting Matches’ and ‘Giving It All’) to the incredibly honest bluesy Jamie-T style crowd favourite ‘Old Songs’. The audience participates with him in change of pace throughout the performance. Whilst his stripped-back acoustic rendition of ‘Sweet Hallelujah’ leaves the packed auditorium in an uncharacteristic quiet, his stunning vocals cause few to doubt Grennan’s musical pedigree. The quiet doesn’t last for long however. Typical of the entire set; Grennan’s on stage energy instantly lifts the crowd for his hit ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’. With the instantly recognisable introduction, from what is currently his most streamed single on Spotify (no doubt fuelled by its recent inclusion in the FIFA ’18 video game and as the theme music for Sky Sports’ Premier League Football coverage), the anthem is belted out by a packed audience
While ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’ might be the most popular single of the evening, what is most impressive is Grennan’s enthusiasm and confidence on stage while remaining incredibly honest and self-deprecating. More established performers may shy away from this, trying to create and maintain a public image. However, Grennan’s unfiltered language, unique voice, quirky observations and admissions throughout the set (such as his confession that he was wearing a stinking shirt) mean that he really does stand out in the crowd.
Despite the old shirt, in the packed St Luke’s Hall, the only lingering smell was one of a young man, full of ambition and just months away from smashing into the mainstream. If his performance in Glasgow on the 7th October is anything to go by, it’s a collision that can’t come too soon.
Grennan’s debut album Lighting Matches is scheduled for release on 9th March with a new tour beginning in Bristol on 15th March 2018.
Setlist: Royal Highness, make ‘em like you, Lighting Matches, Old Songs (acoustic), Lucky Ones, Aboard, Giving It All, Run in the Rain, Barbed Wire, All Goes Wrong, Praying, Sweet Hallelujah (acoustic), Found What I’ve been Looking for, Something in the Water