You can always tell you are in for a special night when you arrive at a venue and fans of the artist are eagerly queuing around the block, jostling for that prime position in front of the stage.

Much like the rest of the dates on Tom Walker’s current UK tour, tonight’s concert at the O2 Academy Newcastle has long since been sold out. Due to unprecedented demand, this evening’s venue was upgraded from the previously advertised Newcastle University, but even with a considerably larger room that didn’t stop Walker’s die-hard fans from snapping up the extra tickets in a heartbeat. A sign of things to come no doubt.

It goes without saying that being the opening act is no easy feat. Often having to endure a modest attendance, and a lacklustre audience is all part of the rite of passage to superstardom. However, Jade Bird is no ordinary support. Having a string of chart-topping singles under her belt, coupled with a meteoric rise Stateside that includes prime time TV appearances on the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Bird’s trajectory is certainly gravitating towards the top.

Following a recent US tour alongside Hozier, and the release of her eagerly anticipated eponymous debut last week Jade Bird joins Tom Walker throughout this current UK run. Having already made an in-store appearance at the nearby JG Windows record store earlier in the afternoon, Bird performs her second show of the day as she showcases her latest offering during a thoroughly entertaining nine-song set.

Bedecked in a pink jumpsuit and grasping her white acoustic guitar Bird immediately grabs Tyneside’s attention with her incredibly infectious set opener “Uh Huh”. With no time to spare, Jade rattles through the likes of “Good At It”, the passionate “Love Has All Been Done Before” and her joyous take on the Bangle’s “Walk Like An Egyptian”.

Unlike her last solo appearance in the region at the SummerTyne Americana Festival, this evening Bird is joined by her talented three-piece backing band.

Without a doubt, there are many highlights from Jade’s short but sweet opening set, including the smash hit “Lottery” and foot-stomping set closer “Going Gone”. The crowd wholeheartedly participating during the latter.

Jade Bird’s heavenly voice, cheery persona and witty stage banter really strike a chord with the Tyneside audience. Having family ties to the region by way of her father, Jade is well and truly accepted by the local natives this evening and wins over a whole raft of new fans in Newcastle in the process.

It’s fair to say that 2019 has been a great year for Tom Walker. He has scooped the much coveted ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ gong at this year’s Brit Awards, a debut album which reached Number 1 in the Official Charts along with a sold out UK tour under his belt all inside of the first four months of the year. Based upon his success in the first half of the year his album What A Time To Be Alive is a perfectly fitting title for Tom Walker.

As the British singer/songwriter takes to the stage in front of a capacity O2 Academy Newcastle crowd immediate shrills of excitement resonate around the room as the man of the hour launches into the first track from his debut album with the beautifully soulful “Angels”.

It’s very difficult to put Tom Walker into a box musically. His unique sound blurs the lines between many genres and styles that dip into the likes of reggae, soul, blues, and much more. Walker conjures up a contemporary melting pot of sound, with widespread appeal. There really is something there for everyone.

Early in the set tracks like “My Way” illustrate Walker’s flow and lyrical prowess, during a song that certainly exhibits elements of hip hop. Such is the breadth of the musical landscape that Walker treads that the following song in the set “Walk Alone” highlight his collaboration with drum and bass legend Rudimental.

Despite the emphasis on Walker’s Number 1 debut album, there is also room in the set for a couple of tracks to say thanks to his old school fans by way of his bass-heavy 2016 singles “Play Dead” and “Fly Away With Me”.

This evening’s concert takes the O2 Academy Newcastle crowd on somewhat of a musical journey. From the emotive folk-tinged song “How Can You Sleep At Night”, the angry heartfelt piano-based ballad of “Fade Away” along with a mellow and incredibly chilled out airing of “The Show”. The latter of which being the perfect soundtrack to this current heatwave we’ve been experiencing in the UK this week. Tonight Tom Walker truly showcases the different facets of his artistry, and there are many.

It may be Wednesday night, but it feels like Sunday, as Walker takes the Tyneside crowd to church during a bluesy and gospel-infused rendition of “Cry Out”, which is one of the many highlights of tonight’s show.

Walker brings his main to a close with his spellbinding love song “You and I”, which in turn has the crowd hanging on every word. A two-song encore including a thunderous drum and bass infused rendition of “Not Giving In” and a show-stopping performance of smash hit “Leave A Light On”, brings Tom Walker’s 1 hour and 15 minutes set to its explosive conclusion.

So many twinkling cell phone lights illuminate the room during the final song of the evening that the O2 Academy Newcastle begins to look reminiscent of the Milky Way. It goes without saying that tonight Tom Walker’s star is most certainly shining bright, it’s highly unlikely that his fans will be able to see the award-winning singer/songwriter in venues of this size for much longer.

Tom Walker
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Event Date: 24-April-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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