Intimate Gainsborough gig perfect for showcasing Tom Odell
Gainsborough is known for a lot of things. It's the birthplace of actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, is home of Gainsborough Trinity Football Club and is widely speculated to be the basis for George Eliot's seminal novel The Mill on the Floss.
But if you're looking for gigs from the most hotly-tipped and exciting artists in contemporary pop music, Gainsborough isn't really the place to be.
Cue Tom Odell, who rolled into town on a snowy Sunday (March 17) to play a one-off intimate show at the town's Trinity Arts Centre.
You should be familiar with the name Odell by now. The 22-year-old songsmith was named the "critic's choice" at this year's Brit Awards: an accolade previously won by Emeli Sandé and Jessie J.
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And, you know, despite both being responsible for the most vacuous, soul-destroying nonsense since, oh, I don't know, Martine McCutcheon, you can't deny that they've shifted some units since winning.
Odell's gig is no accident, though. It's been put together thanks to the folks at Lincs FM for a select few competition winners. The last artist they championed in this way was Adele and, well, we all know how that one turned out.
But right now, Odell still has a long way to go. All people really know so far is the hype. Yes, he comes highly commended by musos and industry types, and, yes, Taylor Swift apparently already wants to dig her claws in. But can he deliver the goods?
The short answer is – yes. And he's quite possibly the future of British pop.
In under three months, Odell has already become the voice of 2013.
His debut EP Songs From Another Love is a melting pot of striking melodies, heart-wrenching vocals and brutally honest accounts of love now lost. On paper, it probably sounds familiar. But there's a power behind Odell's songs which hasn't been heard for quite some time.
Since I first heard Another Love, Odell's standout single anchored around a classical piano hook, layered with sublime melodies and an outstanding vocal range which inevitably collapses into a cacophony of romantic discord, my first worry was how it would translate into a live arena.
But I and the hundred or so others in the crowd at the Trinity Arts Centre can agree, on the stage is when Odell is in his element.
The one thing I've underestimated all this time is just how versatile Odell's vocal really is. At a moment's notice, he seamlessly switches from a delicate, hushed whisper, like in hopeful lullaby Sense, to a bitter lament, like in the Jeff Buckley-esque Can't Pretend, or to an outright rock and roll drawl, best heard in his surprise cover of The Rolling Stones' Honky-Tonk Woman.
Speaking of Buckley, though, once Odell's debut LP Long Way Down drops next month, the lazy comparisons are sure to come thick and fast.
Yes, there are a few tracks that could fit quite nicely into Grace, but that's not to say Odell is merely standing on the shoulders of the tallest of giants.
Odell's art is captivating and spine-tinglingly beautiful in its own right. So much so, that in years to come you can expect him to serve as a benchmark for comparison for new artists, like Buckley does today.
And in years to come, speaking for myself and no doubt everyone else in Gainsborough on this night, this gig will still be remembered as a master class of pure talent and the last chance to see an artist before he breaks into the stratosphere.
Impressive: Tom Odell impressed the audience at a gig hosted by Lincs FM at Gainsborough Trinity Arts Centre. Picture: Richard Young www.thefnumber.co.uk