By Elly Rowland
Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Tom Misch brought his game and many of his friends to the O2 Academy in Bristol this March. With support from brilliant R&B/Soul artist Poppy Ajudha, who features in Disco Yes, a track from his new album that he previewed for us in Bristol. Misch set the scene completely right for the show that many had been waiting for. As someone who seems to spend his summers playing at a number of festivals and living the good life, he seemed to have created a festival vibe within the relatively small venue; a commendable feat indeed.
The fun didn’t stop at the atmosphere, though. Opening his set with The Journey, Misch set us up for a journey indeed. There was a certain development throughout the set, taking us from his slower, acoustic tracks to a more upbeat ending with surprise guests who livened up the tone to whole new level. The collaboration with Ajudha in Disco Yes was one of the highlights of the evening for me. The song itself, alongside the staging and colourful lighting, made the vibe completely electric despite nobody knowing the song, as it hadn’t been released yet. It was one of the more memorable songs played. I felt like I was in a cool disco, but it wasn’t cheesy. It was the perfect modern mixture of funk, disco and soul and I can’t wait for it to be released.
One comment I would make on the set-list though, is that there seemed to be an imbalance between his unreleased and well-known tracks that the audience could sing-along to. I found that I didn’t know around half of the songs played, and I consider myself quite a fan of the Misch man. People around me weren’t singing to all of them either, which tells me I’m not going crazy in thinking that I would have expected to have known more. I would have liked to have heard Ephemeral or For Carol, for example. I felt as though there was a missed opportunity with his performance of Everybody Get Down, it’s fairly repetitive and was dragged out for longer than it perhaps should have been.
Misch usually brings out his sister, Laura Misch, as his saxophonist but she couldn’t make it to Bristol. Instead, Misch found another fantastic sax player who was absolutely phenomenal. The enthusiasm that he brought to the stage was incomparable, and his virtuosity undisputed. As a vocalist, I usually pay more attention to the vocals than the music; I’m sure many people do the same if they feel they can relate in some way to an aspect of a performance. However, my attention was completely on Misch’s sax player as he was just too good to miss, and was one of the main talking points amongst the audience following the gig.
Misch’s violinist had his time to shine at the beginning of Watch Me Dance, where he had a solo. As expected, it was completely faultless and better than anyone could have anticipated. One thing I love about Misch’s music is that there isn’t a ‘sort’ of person who listens to it. Whereby, I mean that one wouldn’t generally think that young adults who also listen to rap music would listen to a violin solo and pay to watch a show of virtuosos. Stereotypically, a lot of the people in the audience, most likely myself included, didn’t look as if they would go to a classical concert. But that implies that there’s a ‘look’ or a line. Where is the line?
is bridging the gap between ‘high-brow’ and ‘low-brow’ with regards to either a class or generational distinction, as defined by Rothstein as ‘music that requires an education’; i.e. classical music. Rap music, on the other hand, doesn’t require an education in quite the same way. In fact, lots of rap music is a revolt against education and the class system, much in a similar way to Punk in the 1970s. The fact Misch includes rap in his violin-based music I would argue, is revolutionary and his popularity is a sign of the changing times becoming accessible, inclusive and unintimidating.
Misch did as many may have expected him to; he waited to play Watch Me Dance in the encore and played one of his better-known singles from the new album, Water Baby. To keep the audience on our feet. Well, Tom, it worked! It was made all the better for the inclusion of Loyle Carner, who features in the studio version of Water Baby, that Misch released as a single earlier this year. Nobody expected Loyle to be there, so the audience went wild when he surprised everybody by sauntering casually onto the stage. I think Loyle got more of a reception than Tom Misch himself purely due to the surprise factor!
Overall, it was an evening of exceeded expectations, special guests and musical prowess, and I would absolutely recommend to anyone to see Tom Misch and his band again.