Meeting Tom for the first time, he comes across as a regular guy, but when he steps on stage he brings a certain command, combining Ed Sheeran style lyrics with pulsating guitar riffs reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys. His powerful voice got the crowd's heads bopping from the get-go, his meaningful lyrics on songs like ‘Just You and I' had couples swaying in each other's arms, and the blend of acoustic and electric sounds on ‘Play Dead' and ‘Leave A Light On' got people dancing.
He attracted a sold out crowd at Thekla on Thursday, March 22 with a wide demographic in the audience portraying the reach and likeability of Tom's music. His rise through BBC Introducing and as a supporting act for The Script on their US tour now sees him setting off on a headline UK, Europe and US Tour in preparation for his forthcoming debut album ‘What A Time to Be Alive’ dropping in September through Relentless Records. The small independent feel of this label with a focus on creative new talents has proved the perfect foundation for Tom to flourish with his well-received EP The Blessings and a handful of charting singles.
He had played in Bristol once before to a crowd of 20, and when compared to this sell-out crowd of buzzing fans it really makes one appreciate his rise. No one appreciated this rise more than Tom himself. He poured out his affections to the fans and it was matched by many calls of "we love you" back. The booming and growling voice that brings an intensity on his recordings translates onto the stage and he happily switched guitars midway through songs to achieve that unique sound, leaving you in awe of his talents. Whilst it was impossible to match the electronic drops that occur on the studio recordings in a live setting, the power of Tom's voice compensated for this more than adequately, adding an extra dimension to his live performance.
Thekla itself is a rather intimate setting, the stage located in the hull of the boat. The charm this environment brings suits Tom's acoustic sounds. But when the intensity was turned up, it felt as if the boat was simply not big enough. The guitar riffs and heavy drums matched with the powerful leading vocals could fill the far corners of an arena. This feeling is rather symbolic of what is to come in Tom's career; for now he tours more intimate settings but it feels like his life album will lead him selling out much bigger venues as more people access and enjoy his music.
His performance consisted of his most well know hits as well as a handful of unreleased singles, including the soon to be released ‘Angels’ from the upcoming album. His new songs follow a similar style to his current hits, using strong lyrics, some which portray a socio-political message, on top of a blend of acoustic and electric sounds. The new songs went down well with the crowd, once again showing the promise in his upcoming album.
Tom's sound so far has been full of innovation, and if he can continue to grow rather than just relying on his current sound to carry him, there are few obstacles in front of him on his way to global success. His debut album features production from Jim Abbiss (producer of Arctic Monkeys' breakthrough debut album), and if Abbiss can apply the same magic touch to Walker's debut, it will likely be the launch pad for his career. Tom Walker shows much potential and so far has been delivering on it, but the next year will prove to be vital if he is to secure a spot in the higher echelons of global stars.
by Scott Boarer