Gig Review by Fran Prince with Photography by Chris Bowley

From the moment a sunbeam of light immersed the stage; Scottish singer-songwriter Tom Walker was greeted with applauds from an army of fans at Birmingham’s O2 Institute. As if filtered through the trees of the Scottish Highlands, or even making reference to two hit songs Leave A Light On and Angels, his entrance was demonstrative of a cycle of lyrics that would set the scene for the rest of the evening, meaningful, emotional and down-right relatable.

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In just a couple of years Walker has collected followers like money in the bank and has checked off key moments some artists only dream of receiving. From a single reaching Top 10 in the UK to having been crowned Sync Artist of the year and even having featured as the lead soundtrack to Sony’s new TV ad earlier this year – Walker seems to be running like Usain Bolt for the music industry.

Admittedly having hoped to have released his debut album ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ just a day after this gig, we are disappointed to hear that it has been put back to March 2019. Though, this seemed almost rectified by the promise and performance of a fresh track with Rudimental being released closer than we thought on the 20th October.

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Fly Away With Me fired up the audience into a chorus of euphoric sound, hope and aspiration encompassed the faces of the entire audience whilst their happy eyes gleamed in the lights.

Rugged and coarse his undeniably earthy vocals broke into Heartland and reminded me of an uncut version of JP Cooper come Alex Clare.

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Just two songs in and the artist confesses us Brummies have “already blown the f*cking balls off the London lot” if that hadn’t stirred us enough next track Play Dead was about to. Enveloping the stage in a red hue, the backdrop set a metaphor for death and love, the themes echoed within this song.

The lightshow was one of the best I’ve seen of this smaller venue, with My Way setting a sieved black and white glare like lasers the band had to avoid. On the other hand a rather merry lady on the seated upper tier was unavoidably wacking a man next to her in the face whilst she paraded her Tom Walker merch in a swaying motion – appreciated by Tom, but possibly not by the gentleman whose face was probably bruised.

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Blessings and Just You And I embodied the raspy vibe to Walker’s voice – resonant of the core tones Tom Grennan also exudes.

Playing us a humble new track In The End inspired by a heart to heart he had with his Grandmother, the poignant lyrics give us morals to live by: ‘love is all that matters in the end’, ‘can’t spend your money when your dead’, ‘can’t live this life again’ and everyone, at some point in life will likely come to the same conclusions.

Latest single Angels walked us through the moments of life that define us, the reflections on times we were in love, our darkest days, and that there is always someone watching over us. The foot-tapping anthem moved the audience in succession.

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Broaching a more political stance, song Rapture ended the set with a tribute to all of us that want to say a big fat ‘F*ck It!’ to today’s world. The things we read, the things we see, the things we experience that is sucking us into an abyss of war and turmoil. So yes, we together come to blackout on a colossal ‘F*ck It!’ – cheers Tom!

Not forgetting to leave us with the ultimate encore Walker finishes his punctual playlist with the fame making synthesised piano track Leave A Light On. The audience roared back the words as we became united in delivering the final message, that there is always someone there, even when you feel alone.

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