ARTIST: Tom Walker (Support Act – Lily Moore)

LOCATION: Oasis Leisure Centre, Swindon

DATE: November 6, 2019


Roaring through an eclectic bunch of powerful tracks in his circa-90-minute long set, Tom Walker’s Swindon gig – on a wet and cold November night at Oasis Leisure Centre – was always likely to be something of a comedown set for me.

The reason for this is twofold.

One – the last artist I saw live was my favourite musician, Tom Grennan, on a scorching summer’s day at Victorious Festival in Portsmouth.

Two – After watching music on a beach, realising you will be subject to watching one of the country's most popular homegrown artists performing in a venue that is akin to a school disco setting hardly gets the juices flowing.

I see the venue in our town that has so often held shop for the country’s most popular singers over the years the same way I view the Great British Bake Off on Channel 4 - it does a job, but we deserve something better.

Yet, the Glasgow-born, Manchester-raised singer-songwriter did his best to uphold his sparkling reputation and remind me – as well as the rest of the 2,000-strong crowd on Wednesday night – why he was the deserved recipient of the BRIT awards’ ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ for 2019.

Bouncing between bass guitar, electric guitar, drums and the microphone, (all of which Walker taught himself, by the way) the 26-year-old put smiles on the faces of a wide-ranging group of adoring fans courtesy of some witty retorts to happy hecklers and tales of how he was inspired to write certain songs on his 2019 album, ‘What A Time To Be Alive’.

One of his most popular hits ‘Just You and I’, for example, is based on his fiancée Annie – along with several other pieces that have not been heard publicly.

Perhaps a little tongue in cheek, Walker later admitted that he told himself to ‘get a life’ after penning ‘about seven songs’ inspired by his wife-to-be in just a few days.

Walker proceeded to tell the engrossed crowd about how his wonderful fiancée is the sort of person who, if you take her to a party where very few people really know each other, would introduce strangers in order for them to form lasting friendships. I liked that. Annie seems like a cool person.

‘You And I’ is the kind of song that could help shape a friendship into something more due to its romantic and uplifting vibe.

The middle-aged couple in front of us certainly thought so as they continued to explore each other’s faces throughout the show – much to the annoyance of most around them.

But enough about them, back to the music.

This particular song, ‘Just You And I’ would be more than palatable had your weekly pub singer stepped up to the mic, but with Walker’s rough and booming voice behind it, the 26-year-old’s pièce de résistance has the ability to bring a cheery tear up the corner of one’s eye.

It’s raw, it shows Walker’s ability to show an emotional maturity beyond his years and it reminds you of a love you might currently hold or have recently lost.

Despite some of the highlights to Walker’s set, there were also some disappointing aspects.

A handful of the Best British Single nominee’s tracks did not have such a lasting effect on me.

As such, the titles of his these particular songs escape my flimsy memory, and the lack of phones out filming those sections of the gig – the modern barometer for the popularity of a particular song or band I find – probably tells its own story.

However, by starting with album-heading ‘Angels’, dropping in Rudimental-collaborated ‘Walk Alone’ midway through and ending with a two-song encore of ‘Not Giving In’ and ‘Leave A Light On’, Walker’s set made sure each punter’s favourite song was never far away.

Accompanied by the brilliant Laura Oakes and preceded by the extremely talented Lily Moore as the night’s support act, Tom Walker proved to be a funny, thoughtful and brilliant singer who was let down by the lacklustre ‘music venue’ he performed in and a couple of middling songs.

However, almost at the end of a hectic year-long tour of the UK, 2019 has no doubt been a special time for the young lad from Manchester.

Awards, a number one album, sold out gigs and a wedding to plan – what a time to be alive, indeed.