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callumwebb
26th March 2023

“Simply astounding” Tom Grennan exhilarates the AO Arena.

On night 7 of his What Ifs and Maybes tour, Tom Grennan blessed a lively Manchester Crowd with a stellar performance in anticipation of his upcoming album
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“Simply astounding” Tom Grennan exhilarates the AO Arena.
Tom Grennan performing at AO Arena, Manchester – Photo: Callum Webb

With an impressive 22-song set, Tom Grennan didn’t allow the slightest moment for an energy drop. With seamless transitions between his latest releases and greatest hits, the chart-topping singer-songwriter delivered a nostalgic yet forward-looking performance highlighting the exciting direction of his latest work.

Kicking off the night were two impressive support acts – the first, 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist Frankie Beetlestone. Playing upbeat, catchy tracks such as ‘Popstar’ and the newly released hit ‘Cannonball’, Beetlestone fired up a receptive audience.

Where he perhaps lacked in stage presence at times, the Sheffield-born rising talent compensated with a spectacular vocal range and an eight-song set of memorable tracks released over the last two years. A promising young talent, Frankie Beetlestone is certainly one-to-watch in the indie pop/rock scene.

Frankie Beetlestone and guitarist Toby (far left), bassist Caleb (left), and drummer Dan (centre) performing at AO Arena, Manchester – Photo: Callum Webb @ The Mancunion
Frankie Beetlestone and guitarist Toby (far left), bassist Caleb (left), and drummer Dan (centre) performing at AO Arena, Manchester – Photo: Callum Webb @ The Mancunion

Following this impressive opener, rising star GRACEY carried on invigorating of the crowd, with an electric stage presence and jaw-dropping vocals from the get-go. Performing hit collaboration tracks ‘lonely Heart’ and ‘Don’t Need Love’, as well as the unreleased ‘Who, What, Where?’ the newly-independent artist provided a memorable display of her innate ability both as a songwriter and as a performer.

That said, whilst the Brighton-born star received an enthusiastic reception on these songs, two of the eight songs in her setlist were covers, with renditions of Lewis Capaldi‘s ‘Before You Go’ and Anne-Marie‘s ‘PSYCHO. Admittedly, these were also well-received by the audience, though resorting to performing covers seemed unnecessary in this instance, and I have no doubt that swapping these for many of the songs in her superb discography would not have compromised this reception.

GRACEY with guitarist/keys player Sofie Veie (left) and drummer Lauren O'Donnell Anderson (right) performing at AO Arena, Manchester – Photo: Callum Webb @ The Mancunion
GRACEY with guitarist/keys player Sofie Veie (left) and drummer Lauren O’Donnell Anderson (right) performing at AO Arena, Manchester – Photo: Callum Webb @ The Mancunion

Then came the main act. Tom Grennan was simply astounding. He is a natural when it comes to showmanship, as has been demonstrated for many years now. Anyone lucky enough to see him on his Lighting Matches tour in 2018 will know that his intrinsic ability to radiate the enthusiasm he has for his own music to fans was crystal-clear even then.

Almost five years, numerous top 10 singles, and a chart-topping second album later, Grennan has undoubtedly improved upon this even further. With a radiant stage presence, a remarkable vocal range, and harmonious cohesion with his band members, the 28-year-old has truly mastered the art of energising a crowd.

Bursting onto stage to begin the set with Evering Road‘s opening track ‘If Only’, aided by breathtaking visual and flame-pillar effects, Grennan’s initial highly active and passionate spirit seemed a high standard to sustain throughout his 90-minute set. And yet, an uninterrupted transition into a three- song medley ensued, including classic fan-favourites ‘Sober’, ‘Royal Highness’, and ‘Barbed Wire’, showing no sign of slowing down.

With the tour’s central focus on Grennan’s upcoming album What Ifs and Maybes, it will come as no surprise that fans were treated to new tracks featuring on the album, including unreleased tracks ‘Psychedelic Kisses’, ‘How Does It Feel’, ‘Head Up’, and ‘Crown Your Love’, all of which received an overwhelming crowd ovation.

Crucial to the London-based singer-songwriter’s success has been his various collaboration projects. Grennan’s feature on Chase & Status‘ 2016 single ‘All Goes Wrong’ was a breakthrough project for him, and this song as well as more recent collaboration projects with KSI and Ella Henderson were never going to have been left out of the setlist. In the case of the former, GRACEY returned to the stage to impeccably perform ‘Not Over Yet’ alongside Grennan. Perhaps even more heartwarming, though, was the performance of the latter song mentioned, ‘Let’s Go Home Together’.

Tom Grennan performing "Let's Go Home Together" with backup singer Angel at AO Arena, Manchester – Photo: Callum Webb @ The Mancunion
Tom Grennan performing “Let’s Go Home Together” with backing singer Angel at AO Arena, Manchester – Photo: Callum Webb @ The Mancunion

Backing singer Angel was brought forward to center stage, and filled in flawlessly for Ella Henderson – no easy feat by any means. Angel’s stunning voice complemented Tom’s on every track on the setlist, but this was a real highlight. A credit, if you will, to the often-overlooked work and talent of backing singers worldwide.

Following powerful live performances of ‘By Your Side’ (Calvin Harris ft. Tom Grennan) and ‘Lionheart’ (Joel Corry ft. Tom Grennan), and ‘Remind Me’, an emotional encore began with a tribute to Grennan’s cousin, Alan. A touching recital of ‘You are not alone’ followed, before a fitting upbeat end to the set with ‘Little Bit of Love’.

Tom Grennan has yet again demonstrated here what it means to be a true star in today’s climate. His confidence on stage is contagious, his voice is extraordinary, and the well-crafted lyrics in each song seem to resonate with everyone in the room. A true performer in the contemporary age, still with a bright future ahead.

 

Tom Grennan’s “What Ifs and Maybes” tour continues in the UK until March 23, with further dates in Europe until April 6. Tickets can be found here.

Callum Webb

Callum Webb

Alt/indie pop fan. I’ve accepted that.Contactable via Instagram: @icallumwebb

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