21 April 2016 at The Islington, London
Not that we play favourites here at Sounds Familiar, but we do have a lot of love for Tom Speight. After discovering him as the support act on the recent Turin Brakes tour, we have made it a bit of a personal quest to publicise him as much as we can. So when he managed to talk us in to seeing him in London on his first headline tour of this year (because he is also an extremely good salesman!) it seemed appropriate to write a gig review. We are nothing if not dedicated to the cause.
The Islington in London is a very nice pub situated close to Angel in Islington (of course). With a nicely set out music room at one end which has a fair capacity and good acoustics, I positioned myself against the wall and got ready to enjoy what the evening had to hold.
First up there was support for the evening (in more ways than one) from the wonderful Tommy Ashby. I’d seen Tommy before as part of Tom’s backing band so was looking forward to seeing him have some up front time on his own. And he didn’t disappoint at all. Taking to the stage with just his 2 guitars for company, he gave the crowd a set of beautiful and meaningful tracks including Broken Bones and the gorgeous Waiting for the Fall. I was quite disappointed when his set came to an end as I really enjoyed listening to him. Check out one of his tracks below.
And so to the main event. Taking to the stage with a full band including Tommy on guitar and the lovely Rosie Carney on vocals, Tom started the set with Waiting. Next up was the beautiful Falling which is a particular favourite of mine and will be featured on Tom’s next EP which should be coming out soon. The packed room enjoyed the ‘ooh ooh’ part of this track so much that it featured as a acknowledgement back to the band during the evening!
River and Green Eyes followed before the band came down and joined the crowd to play the unplugged track Joni. I was watching the reaction of the room during this song as I’ve seen Tom do the same thing several times before, and I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on people’s faces where they were clearly picking up the energy from Tom. It’s always a pretty special thing to see when he does this. Just watch out for him getting up close and personal!
Once back on the stage, the band were joined by a couple of likely lads to give us the title track from the current EP, Little Love. They were of course the guys that co-wrote the song with Tom, Olly and Gale from Turin Brakes. I’ll leave out the informative conversation which was started by Gale when they arrived on stage as this is not that kind of review, but let’s just say their appearance was a short but very sweet accompaniment to what is an incredibly lovely track.
In the small room which incidentally was becoming incredibly warm (although Tom refused to take his jacket off much to the amusement of the crowd!) the set continued with Under Your Arrest and then the song that has now been played at numerous weddings, the lovely Willow Tree. The crowd were with Tom all the way and the final song of the set was my personal favourite, Love. We had been treated to the London Contemporary Voices Choir earlier in the evening giving some lovely backing on River and they finished out the set by taking to the stage once again.
After a riotous round of applause we were given an encore of one final song, Far Away to end what had been a great night of live music from some very talented performers.
One of the many things I like about Tom is the fact that he looks so comfortable on stage and during his interactions with the audience. I have seen many performers who don’t particularity acknowledge their crowd, but his ability to laugh at the proceedings and make everyone feel like he’s playing just for them is a wonderful thing to witness.
Not content with doing a full set on stage, Mr Speight then takes up residence by the merch stand for the rest of the evening and chats to everyone whilst doing his best salesman impersonation. Listening to the compliments from all the satisfied customers, I was very pleased to note how much appreciation there is for this very under rated musician. I really do think that a bigger crowd is waiting just around the corner so if you get a chance to go and see Tom live, take it. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll probably come home carrying a CD or three…
Tommy Ashby can be contacted via his website where you can find links to his music and his social media.