The lovable growling lumberjack from Glasgow has pulled off a tight 55-minute set that shows him off as a superlative live performer. With a backing of bass guitar, keyboard and drums, Walker’s electric guitar (“£100 on Gumtree! I call it Barry”) and roaring, raspy voice carries his pop-rock anthems.
Every song is astoundingly well crafted and arranged, with perfectly timed bursts of choir and string section in certain moments. It also turns out Walker is a fantastic blues rock guitarist in his own right, with some spectacular solos we don’t get in his studio recordings. Incredibly funky drums and bass give everything lift, while Neptunes-esque synths and keyboard glissandos bring extra jazzy sophistication.
“I can’t tell you how f***ing buzzing I am right now to be stood here and to have sold out KOKO… Oh my God, thank you so much,” Walker beams to his screaming fans, who sing along to every song. He’s accustomed to BBC Radio 1 airplay, and currently playing to sold-out venues all over the world on tour, but it’s clear that this is a particularly special night for him.
We had to wait two and a half hours for a relatively short set, but it was worth it especially to hear new songs, like the glistening, heavy-hearted “Angels”. Hits like “Rapture” and “Leave a light on” take on even more emotional power live. Flawless sound and light tech (the best you’re likely to encounter in any live London venue) and Tom Walker’s flawless vocal and on-stage charisma make for an utterly remarkable live experience. This may explain the huge audience demographic of pre-teens, students, hipsters, middle-aged parents and older people. An absolute must-see.
Tom Walker is currently on a world tour.