Last Thursday night saw Tom Grennan kicking off the weekend early at the sold out O2 Academy. With 2,800 people crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in one room, the singer-songwriter came to the stage garnished in his red Spanish bullfighter shirt to a solo rendition of ‘Sweet Hallelujah’. This song was a great start, showing off his soulful vocal ability, after which the rest of the band came to the stage and played ‘Royal Highness’. The call of “Leeds, sing with me” was answered dutifully as the crowd joined and danced along.
Grennan was clearly struggling with the flu, as mentioned on twitter prior to the show. As the set progressed, it seemed there could be a possibility of the show ending earlier than expected. But there was just something about this Leeds crowd – and perhaps a whiskey, or two – that turned it all around. He continued to play many uplifting songs off his Brit Certified Breakthrough album, Lighting Matches. The crowd morphed into an a capella group, chanting the intro to ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’, so by the time the music finally started, the energy in the room was electric. “Why not, let’s play it again!” he exclaimed, as a stage dive incited by the eager crowd led to the repeat of his most popular song – a notable highlight of the evening.
Earlier on in the set, his illness had led him to scrap three songs from the playing order. “I lost my head halfway through this, but Leeds you’ve saved me” Grennan exclaimed, as he changed his mind and began to play acoustic renditions of ‘Giving it All’ and ‘Something in the Water’. Grennan wanted to give the audience what he believed they deserved, and he deserved the crowd’s reaction equally.
Yet this tour carries much greater significance than is simply contained within the music. Earlier in the day, Grennan had been taking part in ‘Big Busk’ in Leeds to help tackle poverty and homelessness, whilst also helping to raise £65,000 for his friend’s life-saving cancer treatment. With philanthropy at the heart, Tom Grennan proves himself to be both a talented entertainer and a benevolent force for good.
Header Image Credit Will Southall