Home Rock music Tom Odell Brings Grief and Healing to Paradise Rock Club | Arts

Tom Odell Brings Grief and Healing to Paradise Rock Club | Arts


Under threatening storm clouds on the evening of April 16, an anxious crowd of New Englanders lined up outside Paradise Rock Club to see English singer-songwriter Tom Odell perform the North American leg of his “Monsters” tour. The next few hours would be consumed in a passionately articulated musical storm of healing amid raw grief.

Even though Odell didn’t take the stage until 9 p.m., the club atmosphere was lively and jovial. Minnesota singer-songwriter Ber walked out on Odell’s opener around 8 p.m., jogging onstage and casually calling, “What’s up, Coachella?”

This light air continued throughout Ber’s performance; at one point, while telling the story of a song, she said, “I once went out with a guy from Boston”, and someone from the audience quickly shouted, “Sorry!” Ber’s vibe seemed to work very well with the crowd, who sang along to some of his choruses and indulged in his jokes. His girl and guitar number was a good precursor to Odell’s boy and piano performance. The greatest similarity between the two was the central subject of their music: grief. “We all love Tom – heartbroken and all, Ber said, greeted by howling cheers. “Anyone else planning to cry tonight?”

Indeed, when Odell took the stage, the singer only lasted two songs before tearing himself apart. “You can’t cover a song once it’s been written – that’s the beauty of it,” he said. It’s become clear that Odell is a songwriter who feels all the emotions he felt writing a song every time he goes to perform it. An exhausting act, certainly, but also incredibly powerful.

Odell took the time to talk about his journey with his mental health, specifically detailing how he battled bouts of apathy between panic attacks. Her willingness to be so vulnerable in a performance environment was striking – the crowd fell silent as if listening to a close friend talk about her pain. The intimacy of the moment waned as he finished speaking and led to “Numb,” the first song he wrote on the “Monsters” album.

Continuing in the vein of serious discussion, Odell shared his experience of hearing about horrific school shootings while living on the West Coast. For someone from England, where gun violence is not as widespread a problem as it is in America (due to the lack of a constitutional right to bear arms), hearing about massacre after massacre was deeply chilling. His song “Streets of Heaven” was written as a tribute and from the imaginary perspective of the young lives lost to school gun violence. “Another blow, a wasted life / Another friend to walk beside,” Odell crooned, a mixture of grief and anger lodged in his throat. “I know it hurts but wipe your eyes / And we’ll sing until the old men cry.”

But the intimacy Odell created with his audience was not limited to his songs about grief. On the contrary, he remained stable even in his more upbeat and uplifting songs. For example, the fan favorite “Grow Old with Me” was performed not only by Odell but by the entire crowd, who sang every word as if they were the ones who wrote the lyrics. And when Odell played “Best Day of My Life,” released just two weeks ago, he ended with an “a ha ha!” agreement to lighten the mood.

Maintaining a connection with his crowd seemed of particular importance to Odell. Although he was stationed at his piano for most of the act, he at one point circled across the stage, acknowledging the people he had his back to. He jokingly recounted how Billy Joel, legendary “Pianoman” and one of Odell’s self-proclaimed idols, had a piano that twirled and circled around the stage, but “we decided to spend the budget on something else”.

This connection kept the energy high even when Odell plunged back into more melancholic songs, like his cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” He explained how Del Rey was present the first time he performed live on UK TV, and she said reassuring words to him before he took the stage. His rendition of “Video Games” cast special magic on the crowd; hearing Del Rey’s compelling lyrics voiced in Odell’s signature croon was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Collaborator Max Clilverd came on to play guitar with Odell on a few songs, including “Heal,” the arrangement of which they changed to a slow, thrilling crescendo that eventually crashed over the crowd in a wave. of his emotion. “Take my mind and take my pain / Like an empty bottle takes the rain / And heal.”

—Editor Aarya A. Kaushik can be reached at [email protected]