I considered myself very lucky to be watching an incredible artist play an intimate set at an outstanding music venue in London on Valentine’s Day in aid of a charity which carries out important work. It really felt like the stars had aligned themselves!
I first saw Tom Walker play a set at the Barn on the Farm Festival in Gloucester in 2016 and it was evident then that he was going to be a star. Personable as a man, with songs that match melody with meaning, he made a real impression upon me and I’ve followed him to see several gigs since then. I’ve seen him sing alone and with a band, and even without his now synonymous beanie, so it was with real excitement that I saw Tom set up with a pianist and a string quartet for this event. The depth of the strings and the clarity of the piano brought a whole new dimension to Walker’s already dramatic musicianship.
This performance comes at the end of the tour and it was evident that the artist was really enjoying delivering his music in this format. The thing that added to the evening was not only that end of tour adrenaline but more likely the presence of his fiancé and boyhood friends from home. It felt like the culmination of the last few years with hit singles, awards and a hugely popular debut album and Tom’s emotions were clearly running high as he urged positivity and a healing of divides in the country within which he has considered many cities his home in years gone by. The Tom Walker that takes to the stage these days has considerably grown in stature and to hear him tell the intimate crowd of the stories behind the songs was almost as mesmerising as his performance of them. Almost! The lucky few that squeezed into this exclusive performance hung on every word and sang along joyously.
The venue for this evening was a hugely vital ingredient. OMEARA is settled in the bustling area of Flat Iron Square, a cultural hub close to London Bridge offering food trucks, bars, new restaurants and of course music. It seems to be bucking the trend of small venue closure by striving to offer music in an intimate vibrant space and couldn’t have been better suited to Tom Walker’s performance. This was my first and I hope not my last opportunity to watch music here. It was great to see the buzz that the whole area has created in the shadow of the Shard.
This event was part of what has become a tradition for the charity War Child UK, a charity who spend every moment in conflict zones around the world ensuring that no child’s life is decimated by war. Every year, around the time of the Brits, they put on a series of intimate gigs giving fans the chance to see some of the biggest names in some of the smallest venues. Names this year include Tom Grennan, Nothing But Thieves, Louis Tomlinson, Bastille and Catfish & The Bottlemen. But surely OMEARA must be thrilled to have had Jack Savoretti and then, last Friday, Tom Walker.
One highlight of the evening for me was Tom singing a new song that he’d just finished which he dedicated to a friend and inspirational person who had come through hardships and managed to come out the other side. It was a brilliant and beautiful song and he asked that the audience put away their mobile phones for a second and listened rather than made videos. It was a poignant moment to stand in this stunning venue, supporting an incredible charity, listening to new music from one of this country’s brightest stars. What a way to spend Valentine’s Day!