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29th March 2023

Tom Walker: Shining the ‘Light’ in Manchester

Tom Walker and his band bring a powerhouse show to Manchester Academy
Tom Walker: Shining the ‘Light’ in Manchester
Photo: Sony Music

Tom Walker has finally returned to the stage to play his long-delayed album tour for What a Time to Be Alive. Walker is the singer of toe-tapping hits like ‘Just You and I’, ‘Wait For You’, ‘Leave a Light On’, and ‘The Best is Yet to Come’.

First on stage was support act Persia Holder singing a cover of Lewis Capaldi as in the video below, and a few of her own original songs. Starting off on TikTok and branching out to live concerts, her voice was uniquely smooth, harmonic and emotionally connected to everything she sang. After a few soulful songs on the keyboard a short intermission ensued playing crowd favourites like ‘Piña Colada’ before the main event hit the stage.

As a fan of his work, I was extremely excited to see whether Tom Walker’s voice would live up in live shows; he was amazing. His sound is vulnerable and raw yet filled with rage, emotion, and energy that bursts from the seams. He is also a skilled guitarist and blends effortlessly with his talented bandmates.

The concert felt like a warm, personal interaction with Tom Walker, and an insight into his life. Whether it be finding out about his fiancé’s hen night, shouting happy birthday to a young boy at the front of the stage, stories of squabbles with record labels, complimenting the Northern accent, bantering with the audience members who called for ‘Leave a Light On’ by saying “it’s too expensive” or telling the lighting engineer to “leave the f*cking light on for us”, or even hearing how his songs were based on tragedies and hard-goings he had experienced, a connection was felt.

In fact, several of his hits have meaningful origins, with one song created to as an ode to a lost loved one, another about a friend he lost to suicide, and a third about the rage he felt at the Tories and their actions during the COVID pandemic after his grandfather died in a care home. In addressing the melancholy of his songs, Tom admitted that he knows “they’re a bit depressing but [he likes] to think there’s an undertone of hope in there”, and indeed there was.

Just looking into the audience filled me with awe as I saw hundreds of likeminded individuals parroting the words back to him, families signing the words to some of his biggest hits, little stories and romances blossoming in the crowd- it was truly a sight to behold.

The stage was set up fairly simply with drums, guitarist, keyboardist, and a variety of warm and white lights that increased the homely feeling of the night. After seeing other artists in concert, Tom Walker felt like a return to home, with stripped back elements; its just a man and his band playing with no need for extravagant effects, pyrotechnics or big screens.

In the last moments of his show, the audience screamed and clapped for an encore, still waiting for ‘Leave a Light On’ and were relieved when the keyboardist came back on stage, slowly building the atmosphere before Walker arrived and kicked off the final song with the whole audience singing in unison. The show was outstanding and an unmissable performance.

Tom Walker also teased the release of another album in the upcoming year, giving fans plenty to look forward to.

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