Tom Misch @ Manchester Gorilla, 19/11/16

If the bitter chill over in Leeds has crossed the Pennines, it’s certainly not breached the sweaty walls of Manchester Gorilla. Cosy at the best of times, the intimate venue becomes utterly rammed during a charming, spaced out support set from Carmody.

Perhaps this is unsurprising. Multi-instrumentalist Tom Misch has garnered a cult following since 2015’s ambient, funk-infused Beat Tape 2. His diverse appeal is reflected in tonight’s crowd: an interesting blend of those for beats and those for beautiful guitar, peppered with some loudmouths who probably thought Gorilla was a Harambe tribute night. But, regardless of meme knowledge, this mismatched mess move as one the instant Tom enters.

‘The Journey’ provides a perfect opener. The first track from Beat Tape 2, this instrumental offers a smooth groove ideal for easing the crowd in. The violinist, an unexpected addition to the live band, seems worth his weight in gold here, fleshing out textures with sustained tones and a loop pedal. Not to mention Misch himself, whose jazz-soaked guitar work sounds like John Mayer with balls. By the time the hefty riff of ‘I Wish’ sets in, the whole room is jiving.

However, Tom’s not much of a talker. Sure, he graciously thanks everyone, or calls for applause as his band drop face-melting solos. Yet somehow, he seems less comfortable in the limelight. This is accentuated by various guest appearances, including the return of Carmody and a saxophone feature from his sister, Laura Misch. Zak Abel’s appearance for an electrifying live debut of ‘Beautiful Escape’ provides a high-energy, heartfelt singalong. But these highlights also emphasise Tom’s preference for the sideline over the spotlight. This is by no means a criticism; Misch’s best moments are simply borne out of collaboration.

Having another lead the crowd channels his introversion into the music, filling it with soul, and leaving venues like Gorilla feeling an altogether warmer kind of chill.

Sam Corcoran

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