Seriously, the soundtrack to my life for the past two weeks has been Tom Odell and I can think of no more capable hands. A difficult time, as I documented in my last post, I know that in years to come just the sound of the familiar opening bars on the piano will bring it all flooding back. He is a huge talent and, obviously, a very nice guy – sorely tested when faced with Becca and I, perhaps! No one could combine such beautiful words and melodies if that were not the case. I remember being introduced to his music by Manny, several years ago, when all I could hear booming from the shower, incessantly, was I Know. Then, of course, there was Grow Old with Me. Defenceless. I was hooked and so excited when I secured two tickets for his first concert in Edinburgh following the release of his album Long Way Down in 2013. I had, actually, bought the tickets for Becca and Manny believing, for an instant, that I was too old to ‘get down with the kids’ but Manny was captive in the beautiful environs of ‘Aberdream’ and unable to go so I stepped in. Result! We had the best seats and I have never forgotten that evening, particularly sniffling my way through Sense. Completely unassuming in his denim jacket and Chelsea boots – bemoaning his plastic cup of whisky sat on top of the piano – there was no need for any frills as he handed the audience a ticket to escape for just a while, transported to another world by his effortless piano playing, heart-wrenching lyrics and emotive voice. A fan for life. Am I being paid for this?!
So it was that, obviously, I bought three tickets for his return to the Usher Hall on the Jubilee Road tour and, guess what, Manny couldn’t go! I did my best. Still, always good to have a spare seat for one’s bag and coat! For reasons I have covered, it was an emotionally-charged time and I had been clinging to the thought of the concert but life has a way of throwing everything at you and it was a difficult day involving a lot of rushing around and little food. Becca had parents’evening at school and arrived home after 7 when we, immediately, jumped in a taxi up to the Usher Hall. Arriving, gasping for wine, we succumbed to the merchandise and, buying multiples of three, I did more than fund his whisky for the evening, promising to tell him when I saw him – little did he know!
An air of huge excitement we, at last, settled in our seats in time to hear the end of the second support, Max Jury, if I remember correctly. He was excellent although supports are rarely given the attention they deserve. James Bay was with Tom on the first occasion and came out to say ‘Hi’ afterwards. Big name now but I was always disappointed that in subsequent interviews I never heard him give any credit to Tom Odell for boosting his profile. Oh, well. Wonder if they are still in touch?
Stage right, on he sauntered, still unassuming but, dressed in a suit, a more confident, assured Mr Odell than the one of five years ago. Straight to the piano and the keyboard effortlessly came alive as he opened with the title track from Jubilee Road. I might add that I am relying on memory here as my new album and signed set list have still not materialized! On the positive, something to look forward to … He went from hit to hit but, this time, teasing with his intros and taking every opportunity to improvise, all his own material after all. Inevitably, the piano took the blow as he jumped on board and the stool was cast aside on more than one occasion as he ventured down to the crowd. He was, as expected, superb. Forever harping on about this techno-driven world, the undeniable talent and songwriting skills of Tom Odell are a reason for hope. Unquestionably intelligent affording an affinity with the English language, I feel confident that the concept of a dictionary is not alien to him. At one with the piano, his talent is enviable and, with an obvious heart, the melodies and lyrics ensure songs which will stand the test of time. I liken him to a modern-day Elton John or Billy Joel. A legacy secure – and worthy of respect.
Missing from the set list, Constellations and Silhouette but, understandably, impossible to play them all. For my part, I would have paid just to hear him sing – and play – Half as Good as You: the most beautiful song and one which now, for personal reasons, has a special place in my heart … In fact, so much so that I have decided that I want it to be the first song I learn to drum to! Yes, it is true. Having always wanted to play drums, Manny – who knows me so well – gave me drumsticks for my recent Birthday and has organized for his friend, Tom (not that one!), to give me lessons. Happy days! I’ll just picture that face on that drum and …
All good things come to an end and the piano man was gone. High on wine and song, Becca and I headed out into the cold, content to join the small crowd waiting for Tom to come out and say ‘Hello’. Part of our ritual, we have so many stories to tell and have had so much fun over the years. Rarely let down, it is fascinating to meet the artist in the wings, as it were, and glimpse the real person. It was freezing, though, and one by one the others disappeared until only we, two, remained. As time moves on, it becomes impossible to leave! Finally, however, the tour bus pulled up and two figures appeared in the shadows, one in joggers, cap on back-to-front, seemingly sneaking by but, all the while, looking our way! ‘Is that Tom Odell? That’s not Tom Odell … is it?’ The voice replied ‘No’, with an accompanying smile, and that was it – five minutes in his life which Tom Odell will never get back, nor forget! Becca must have told him about my blog and, laughing at the name, he immediately pulled it up on his phone reading out the opening paragraph re my nightmare apropos chartering a yacht round the Greek islands. Nothing could be more hilarious or more fitting. Suffice to say, he saved it to his notes promising, under a little duress, to read it and comment before good-naturedly promoting it on video. Forgetting to give him my email address, I’m not sure if there is the facility for leaving a comment but there were added ‘likes’ at the bottom and my readership has rocketed so I have a feeling he is keeping his side of the bargain. Mine? Writing this!
So what did I make of Tom Odell ‘in the wings’? Good guy and, once over the initial shock (his!), very obliging. To be honest, he claimed he had been working but I suspect he was as tipsy as us – thankfully! A dry sense of humour, there is a wickedness about him which belies his clean cut image and a confidence which supersedes a natural shyness. He posed for many photos, took an interest in Trish-Trash.com and, whilst handling Becca and I with aplomb, had some fun along the way. So the Jubilee Road bus rolls on leaving behind some very happy memories and a few more stories to tell. A bientot …
‘I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.’
The Solitary Reaper (1807), William Wordsworth.
This is Trish, signing off