On one of the first spring-like evenings of the year, numerous couples are queued up outside The Haunt in Brighton to spend their evening chilling out to the tunes of Tom Walker. It’s the sixth gig of his 2018 tour, and the atmosphere is already pretty electric, drinks are flowing, and the crowd are enjoying being warmed up by his two support acts, Grace Ackerman and The Beach. By 8:45pm, the audience are suitably merry and are eagerly anticipating the main man’s entrance. A couple of minutes pass with everyone keeping their eyes on the tech guy at the back of the room for the ‘signal’, and out bursts Tom Walker with ‘By Myself’ and ‘Heartland’. What a way to open the show!
Later on in his set, after a flawless performance of his new single ‘Dominoes’ and ‘Fly Away With Me’, Tom tells his adoring fans that his long awaited album, What A Time To Be Alive, is set to be released in September. “I didn’t want to release it too early. It’s like a loaf of bread, you don’t want to take it out of the oven too early and f**k it up”. The crowd continue to go wild for his next couple of tracks ‘Cry Out’, ‘Sun Goes Down’ and ‘Karma’, with a selection of fans chanting “Walker, Walker, Walker”, and then the set takes more of a mellow tone. Tom introduces everyone to his new guitar, Barry, a replacement for his previous, much loved instrument, Pete, that recently got run over by a bus at the airport. He then treats us all to a stripped back performance of ‘Blessings’ and ‘Just You And I’. At this point, everyone appeared to grab someone they love, and bask in the pure magic of his beautiful voice.
After a few more tracks from his upcoming album, Tom exits the stage, but swiftly returns for an encore of another new track ‘Angels’, and the song that everyone’s been waiting for, ‘Leave a Light On’. This is where the real emotion kicks in. Tom reminds the crowd that the song relates to a close friend of his that went missing whilst battling with a drug addiction; and asks everyone to turn on their phone lights and enjoy the last couple of minutes of this moment. The room lights up, and I don’t think there was a single person that wasn’t singing along to the words of his best-known track. It was at this point you could see that his job here was done – he’d united his crowd over something that means so much to him. It was, by far, one of the best live performances I’ve seen in a long time, and was definitely a night to remember.
By Emma Stanoch