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Teenage sensation Tom A Smith performed at The Grove in Newcastle on Friday as part of his 5 day UK tour.

Credit: Maeve Wong

After the long awaited arrival of decent weather this year it would seem madness to spend several hours of the day indoors in a windowless, darkened box room. However, Tom A Smith, a young man with an increasing reputation in the music scene was in town, making this sun sacrifice somewhat understandable.

Fortunately, the venue of choice, at 350 capacity, The Grove offered a generous rooftop seating area to catch those final rays before heading inside.

Up first were Birmingham based band Big Image, with Tom tipping them to light up the night after introducing the group with an earlier social media post “you’re gonna love em!”. They certainly produced an exciting array of sounds, including some guitar riffs reminiscent of the 1975’s first album. They also got the crowd involved, encouraging to them sing along to what they called ‘the simplest chorus of all time’ in “Oh Uh Oh”.

There was even a tribute to the unsung hero of every gig – the guy at the sound desk. With lead singer George handing a bottle of beer to a member of the audience, challenging them to pass it on relay style until it successfully reached the man at the sound desk.

Big Image finished their set with their most popular tune ‘Separate Beat’, which screamed Kasabian. All in all, a very decent warm up.


Now onto Tom A Smith, a 19 year old who has already been endorsed by musical royalty Elton John. His immediate stage presence of someone his age was staggering. He began with punchy opener ‘Fading Away’, packed with bright guitars and to kick the show off in style.

Performing in a Sunderland AFC t-shirt on Soccer AM last year, Tom knew with the gig being on Tyneside he was deep behind enemy lines and the Newcastle chants had already started! He then quickly defused the situation by stating “we’ll not do that today!”. This resulted in an eruption of laughter from the crowd and just like that football rivalries had been put aside; the tension in the atmosphere was dissipated.

He then played newest single ‘Get Me Started’, during which I could not help but think I’d seen the drummer somewhere before, but I couldn’t place him, he looked strangely similar to the drummer from the support. Was this his double or was I just going crazy?

At the end of the song Tom explained that this was indeed Seb, the drummer from support band Big Image.

Credit: Maeve Wong

Unfortunately, Smith’s actual drummer was suffering with sickness, so Seb had to step in and quickly learn all the songs the day before. Tom revealed it took only 30 minutes for him to grasp all the material – some commitment if true!

We were then met by the deep tone of a distortion pedal of the bass guitar in the track ‘Toronto’; its highly energetic rhythm was adored by the almost sold out crowd. I caught hints of ‘Take Me Out’ by Franz Ferdinand throughout.

Next, Tom invited the crowd to join in the chorus of ‘Man Overboard’. They duly obliged, matching his enthusiasm with impressive levels of participation. This was a testament to his musical charisma for someone of his age.

We were then allowed a sneak peak into some of Tom’s most recent, unreleased material. This including a 16 word titled song ‘I Don’t Want You To Have To Remember Me For Longer Than You Ever Knew Me’, which continued build up the dynamic energy of the set with a minute long commanding closing guitar riff.

It was then time for Smith’s bandmates to temporarily depart the stage for his solo section. Admittedly, I’m not a great fan of these arrangements as I believe the momentum of the performance is often lost. However, Tom’s command of the room only grew, belting out lyrics with jet powered vocals, the lad certainly has a set of lungs on him! The crowd yet again reciprocating and got involved wholeheartedly at every opportunity.

The band members then rejoined him and the lively tempo was restored with ‘Dragon Fly’. Throughout the track, Tom and his team couldn’t help smiling at each other, noticing the raucous atmosphere they had cultivated, the room was bouncing!

Before beginning his next track, Tom took a moment to pay tribute to Miles Kane who gave him the chance to co-write the song. From the start the stylistic influences were evident, with ferocious guitar riffs and powerful vocals.

For his penultimate song ‘Never Good Enough’ Tom invited The Grove venue owner Cole onto the stage to give the band a hand on guitar. A classy gesture in appreciation for allowing them to host the gig there.

Tom concluded the set in usual fashion with his take on LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’, backed by the thumping bassline of bassist Katie Anderson whose unmatched energetic nature gained recognition from the crowd with a banner raised on stage displaying her name.

Credit: Maeve Wong

When the end finally came the entire audience stayed to clap and show their appreciation to a truly memorable night. Tom A Smith is someone who we will be certainly hearing a lot more of in the future; his stature and confidence on stage is simply astonishing for someone of his youth.

The venue on his next tour will certainly be bigger than 350 but his impressive musical talent and stage presence will ensure the intimacy and atmosphere generated here will continue. Keep an eye on this kid, something big is brewing here!


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