Review: Tom Grennan @ Manchester Academy 1

Tom Grennan had the sold-out Manchester Academy belting out hits from his debut album Lighting Matches in an electric gig on Friday.

The Bedford-born artist has described his music as “fiery and passionate”, and his powerful vocals teamed with strong melodies backed up his claims for all to see.

Set opener Sweet Hallelujah was stripped back to Tom and his acoustic guitar, highlighting his unique voice and providing calm before the storm.

“Are you ready to f*cking go mad?” was met with a boisterous roar, and the catchy Royal Highness followed by Praying had the crowd geared up for a powerful night.

The transition from ballads like I Might and upbeat toe-tappers such as well-known Found What I’ve Been Looking For emphasised the power of the two opposite styles.

His two backing vocalists provided the same soulful depth apparent in the album, the likes of which were most apparent in fan favourite Barbed Wire.

A black backdrop with his name emblazoned on it demonstrated how no gimmicks were needed. This was about the music and Tom’s connection with the crowd.

Not often do artists have the ability to write such belt-it-out tunes, but Grennan certainly has that in abundance, as was proved through his renditions of Lighting Matches and When It All Goes Wrong.

The latter’s final chorus was shouted at the stage with no assistance coming the other way – anything but normal for a track that only made the longer deluxe album.

Grennan admitted he’d forgotten the words to Secret Lover and recovered like a pro, endearing him to the crowd even more.

He worked the audience well, ensuring they kept the energy up, and he didn’t let his frequent cross-stage movement affect his vocals.

The 23-year-old took off his jacket halfway through and continued to look like he owned the place in a white vest stop. Think Freddie Mercury without the 80s moustache.

The encore included the emotional Something in the Water and Patience, ending the rollercoaster performance that surely left many without a voice the next morning.

This was somehow the only sell-out of his tour, although Grennan reflected on how proud he was to have stepped up from playing to 400 people on his last visit.

If Friday was anything to go by, the infectious energy of his performances will see him filling bigger and bigger venues over the next few years.

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