If you’re looking for some inspiration to beat the leftover melancholy thrust upon you by the blues of fifth week, congratulations, the universe has heard you! Make a little room in your life for Tom Grennan, a breezy yet deeply self-motivated musician who has been listed on the BBC Sound of 2017. Grennan performed at The Cellar, Oxford, on 12 February where I had the chance to watch him live and catch up with him.
Having reached the venue earlier than expected, I coolly walked down the stairs interrupting the rehearsal but Tom was happy to have a chat and let his band mates proceed with the sound check. The twenty one year old ex-prospective footballer has made an extraordinary big switch from the field to the stage, leaving the game behind to focus on his career in music. As a matter of fact, Grennan only picked up the guitar three years ago and taught himself how to strum chords. “I’m still not that good at playing guitar. I’m still learning” says the rather modest artist on the rise. He tucked himself away for a year while at university, building his identity as a musician from scratch. A self confessed fan of Amy Winehouse, Tom admits that his music draws elements from jazz. Donning his fairly blasé red tracks and an unfussy jacket, the musician from Bedford professed that although it was his first visit to Oxford, he was looking forward to the evening.
I couldn’t help but notice how relaxed he was throughout the interview and I can safely say that he is quite an engaging conversationalist. After twenty minutes or so I went outside to stand in line for the concert and stood behind two very affable women who had driven down from Milton Keynes to see him. “Oh we love him” one of them said. As the queue became longer , the wind frostier and countless cigarettes stubbed in the alleyway, my body truthfully felt relatively tired. But when the doors opened and my hand stamped with a blob of indecipherable ink, I was suddenly geared up for the evening. “Are you also in love with him?” asked his official photographer who stood next to me before the concert began. I chuckled, looked around and observed. The room was full with people who surely had their cameras ready.
After everyone had settled comfortably into their stools and moved onto their second drink, the lights dimmed. It was time for the opening act by indie artist Cuckoolander along with her accompanists. Of all the songs they performed, I think “Mother Nature” was pretty spot on and the crowd head bobbed with each drum beat. Their act was followed by a forty minute break and I went back to feeling drowsy. Then without warning, Tom hopped on the stage casually introducing himself as four screaming girls quickly paced up forward, moving closer to the stage. His outfit had changed, black trousers paired with a bright red patterned shirt and signature dangled earrings seen in his posters made their appearance.
His voice, brusquer than saw dust yet somehow as smooth as scotch echoed from the speakers. “Old Songs” ended and I admittedly enjoyed it. When the next song was performed, I couldn’t tell it apart from the last one. Having said that, when he shut his eyes and sang “Something in the Water” something stirred inside me. I’m not sure if it had something to do with the lyrics “Two beats I had no idea now the message you sent well it ain’t clear cause, I fall I’m in love. Yes I, fall I’m in love again” or his vocals, but there was surely a relatable moment of touching evocation. Do I recommend Tom Grennan? Definitely. As he puts it, he’s “fiery, very real and a loose cannon”. With his album releasing in September 2017, he is surely one to watch out for!