July 16, 2024

Tom Grennan – Live in Leeds 2024 – “a natural performer with a belting set of tonsils”

Millenium Square, Leeds             6th July 2024

Singing to a sold-out crowd of about 6,000 in Leeds’ summer outdoor venue, Tom Grennan’s athletic performance built cleverly and sustained an eighty-minute set that I wouldn’t have thought likely. Working though a mighty twenty songs, he started with early tunes then hit the audience with the bigger ballads of his second album and the uptempo songs of the third. Having come to notice guesting on Chase & Status’ ‘All Goes Wrong’, he uses this to launch a handful of dance-orientated bangers to close the set.

He’s all about the singles and, having four or five from each album, there’s plenty to fill the set. That pleases the audience, nicely mixed with young couples, families with kids, mum & daughter duos and a few beery boys. It’s a chilled and threat-free atmosphere for a Saturday night, especially after an England football victory. A natural performer, Grennan works hard, rushing from side to side of the stage and out onto the proscenium, pumping his muscular arms in the air, and working the crowd. After a shower of rain he seems to be quite enjoying a few skids on the stage and keeps telling us how happy he is to be up North.

His voice is a surprise for me; much more powerful live than on record, gritty but sustained and strong – a powerful instrument. He uses it for the big belters, the arm-waving ones that turn the space into a fairyland of twinkling phone torches as the summer dusk comes on. But, as he jokingly said when he launched his third album, “no-one needs another ballad in their lives”, and he uses it to bang out uptempo songs too. There’s some nice touches; he works the beat of ‘We Will Rock You’ into ‘Crown Your Love’ and quotes Sly Stone’s ‘Dance To The Music’ in ‘By Your Side’. There’s just enough pyrotechnics and fireballs for a big show and, along with Tom telling us to “jump, jump”, the crowd keeps moving.

Of course, there is singing along; ‘Don’t Break The Heart’ has the crowd singing along with the break-up chorus and he teaches them the chorus from ‘Head Up’. Moving towards the end, Grennan makes smart use of his backing singers, bringing them down to duet. ‘Let’s Go Home Together’ is acted out like a West End musical and the following few, like ‘Not Over Yet’ make good use of female vocals amidst the drum and bass beats and rising fireballs. The countdown has begun and the beats get more interesting as we count down to the finale.

There’s been a lot of running, spinning, jumping, pointing tonight with a lot of showmanship and some remarkably strong vocal performances that add life to songs that can pass on the radio as more pop-fodder. That’s what live music does – it shows you what’s really there, and what is here is a natural performer with a belting set of tonsils.

 

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James Newby & Joseph Middleton – Live in Leeds 2024 – “powerfully controlled singing”

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