Tom Misch at the Olympia Theatre on the 14th of May, 2018
“You have to love this thing man, love it and breath it, it’s your morning coffee and your food, that’s why you become an artist”
The voice on the sample announces Tom Misch‘s arrival on stage with the above words. A fitting introduction for what was to come that night in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre.
The 22-year-old, London-based artist has been causing a stir over the past six months. Borrowing elements of jazz, hip-hop and electonica, Misch’s original material has an undeniable charisma. With the release of ‘Geography’, his sophomore album, in April, Misch seems to have all the makings of a household name.
When the band begin Before Paris, with the opening sample cascading into reverb infinity, one thing is established immediately. This is a project of passion for Misch and the musicians who accompany him on stage.
The band seem genuinely ecstatic to be performing. Misch continually has a sort of humble joy throughout the set. It’s not a gratification of the ego so much as it is the exhilaration of being able to do what you love for a living. When the audience sing the melody back to the band, they beam right back in turn.
South of the River sets the place alight early on. Props must be given to the arrangement of the tune. That opening riff played live on the violin is a real highlight. The richness of the full band, when it comes in, makes not moving impossible. Misch delivers the vocals live with the same glassy smoothness as he does in the studio, his arms outstretched, as if inviting the entire audience in to join him. Needless to say, they do.
Listening to ‘Geography’, it would be easy to have some reservations on how the whole sound would translate to a live setting. The album has one foot in dance music and the other in yacht rock. Come down too hard on the former and you loose so much of the album’s charm, too hard on the latter and the body and attitude of the music is gone. The group find the balance for the most part. Even the slow numbers, with the noodling guitars, have enough texture to never sound thin. The most animated tracks never swallow Misch up in the mix.
The band seem to feed off one another, as all great bands do. Barring the lyrics, nothing in the songs seems to be set in stone. The entire group jam, modulate and expand upon the existing material. These aren’t just brief interludes either, Misch’s skill as a jazz soloist is killer.
The entire set, consisting of about 90 minutes worth of material, including the encore, never lacks in drive and focus. A lull in the gig around the halfway mark is a common feature for any concert goer, so the fact that Misch and co. can hold a near capacity Olympia Theatre for that length of time off material from one album is very impressive.
Set highlights include the wonderful It Runs Through Me, the single from Misch’s album ‘Geography’. It’s a perfect sonic representation of the kind of music Misch seems to be about. Blending elements of styles both classic and contemporary. The ascending chord progression on the guitar is both jazzy and pop. The rhythms from which send the assembled crowd in a frenzy. Most notably, the song manages to bridge the gap between mainstream attraction and artistic integrity, with plenty to offer on both sides.
While most acts play encores as a tip of the hat to tradition, to not have returned to the stage after the booming requests of the audience would have been rude. Tom Misch seems to have the potential to go very far in the current music climate, ask anyone who attended the Olympia that night.