Tom Walker Returns to Leeds University Union, 13/10/18

After a three year hiatus from Leeds University Union, Tom Walker made his epic comeback to Stylus, the legendary home of Fruity on Saturday 13th November. Having last played at Leeds uni in 2015 for the Leeds Summer Ball, his eventful return promised to be an exciting show.

Fellow Relentless Records labelmate Sody opened the night, at just 18, the rising star sung her newest offering ‘Maybe it was me’, a radio-friendly melody with a catchy chorus along with some of her previous work. Maisie Peters took to the stage after Sody bringing a dry humorous stage presence with her. The multi-instrumentalist showed off her talent jumping from guitar to keyboard whilst nailing her vocals. Tom is a big fan of Peters’ voice and had actually messaged her on Twitter to encourage her to keep doing what she was doing before inviting Peters to tour with him.

As expected, when Tom took to the stage the crowd standing in the pit of Stylus which by this time was full to the rafters were extremely excited. Everywhere you looked from the back balcony to all the stairs leading into the sunken pit had passionate fans awaiting his arrival. The instantly recognizable intro to ‘Fly Away With Me’ caused quite a stir for the eclectic mix of ages within the audience who were singing to the tune instantly. What was really surprising was the heavy rock influence to his live rendition of the song that was so powerful and raw. The lyrics penned by Walker for this song were nothing short of genius – simple in their melody and full of empathy, escapism, sadness, and yet optimism for the future.

Also among the setlist for the night was Tom’s new collaboration with Rudimental, a band he admitted to having admired for quite some time. Called ‘Walk Alone’, the new song is set to be released in early 2019 on Rudimental’s album. A truly special moment for the audience was when Tom performed an untitled song that he only plays live for people who pay to see him, which much to the audiences disappointment will not be going on his new album. His raspy voice and honest vocals combined with the fact he sung this song alone on stage without his instrumentalists really struck a chord with the now silent audience.

‘My Way’ was met with a similar reaction to ‘Fly away with me’, one of the biggest and most recognisable songs on his new album, an ode to the highs and lows of unexpected obstacles that we overcome in life.

A stand out moment from the night was when Tom spoke of a recent memory where he had gotten drunk with his grandma and they had talked at length about their lives for over 4 hours. He had dedicated his next song to her and it was during this song that the unspeakable happened. A couple got engaged in the pit of Stylus, which much to my dismay meant I couldn’t shake the thought of the inevitable drunken happenings of the previous night which many Leeds uni students would have had at Fruity. Nonetheless, a priceless moment for both the crowd, the couple and Tom Walker. Ever the gentleman, Tom dedicated his next song ‘You and I’ to the now euphoric Jeff and his newly appointed fiance Stacy. Following on from the real and emotional love song that is ‘You and I’ was ‘Angels’ which he wrote for the everyday heroes who don’t get enough credit. Although, the beginning lyrics are a tad bleak, the punchy and uplifting chorus of this anthem ring true amongst the crowd.

Of course, the night concluded with ‘Leave A Light On’ the song that really has propelled Walkers’ career shining a spotlight on the artist. This was one of Toms’ best vocal performances of the night, although his voice in general is absolutely flawless. He sung with equal-parts grit and determination, but moments later sung softly, helping along the loud-quiet dynamic that has been present throughout the set.

Header image via Tom Walker