Review: Tom Grennan at Utilita Arena
Tom Grennan @ Utilita Arena – Tuesday 14th March
Due to the massive demand of people wanting to see Mr. Grennan this event had been moved from Newcastle City Hall to the Utilita Arena. A huge venue to fill just shows the rise in Tom Grennan’s popularity and fame. I have been a huge fan of his since his first album – ‘Lighting Matches’. He has embarked on a huge journey with his music and has really evolved and refined his sound but this means he now hosts a whole repertoire of songs, only making his sets more varied and exciting! His second album – ‘Evering Road’- provided us with bop after bop – hosting ‘A Little Bit of Love’ and my personal favourite ‘This is the Place.’ We actually saw Tom at Kendal Calling last year and he performed a brilliant set. I was just hoping this would live up to that amazing Saturday slot at the festival. I also really enjoyed his recent performance on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway with Remind Me – so much fun. I am really enjoying his dance collaborations recently too!
I haven’t visited the Utilita for a long time but as always I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the venue. Not one for those who do not like busy, big events. The place was packed when we arrived and only continued to get busier as the night went by. I was shocked that it was a near sell out. This by no means is an easy feat.
As we entered we caught the last few songs from Frankie Beetlestone. He had amazing audience interaction and it was surprising to see how many people knew his music. Clearly a name to keep an eye on in the future. He ended his set with the song Popstar, which packed great vocals, relatable lyrics and such fun movement on the stage. He gave me all the 2000’s pop rock band feels – think McFly and Busted vibes. He was surrounded by brilliant musicians and we saw many of these throughout the evening. I could feel the bass vibrating under my feet. I loved his humbling speech about being emotional that the crowd were waving back at him. The audience left him with a parting gift of a gigantic cheer. He had clearly left everyone feeling very satisfied.
We weren’t waiting long for our next act to burst onto the stage, meaning no sitting around getting bored. A quick turn around by the stage crew for the Queen that is Gracey. I had also never heard of her music before and after the first song I was hooked. Not my usual genre of music but wow, was she a fireball on stage. Some of her songs are in the Spotify playlists- Ibiza 2023, Summer Bangers and Running UK- a clear indication of dance tunes and absolute BOPS! Not only was she incredibly talented she was also stunning, I adored her outfit on stage and she looked every inch the popstar. She discussed how it had been a hard year as she had been signed to a label who wouldn’t let her release any music and she had finally broken away to become an independent artist. Bravo, to Tom and his team for showcasing her spectacular talent across this tour.
On stage with her she had an amazing drummer who had the energy of a Duracell bunny, jumping and dancing around through all of the songs and a guitarist/ keyboard player- how talented please? How is it fair to be able to do both so well?! I’m totally here for the full female ensemble- girl power at its finest. Gracey had the most unique and stunning tone to her voice so I was delighted to hear her cover a slower song- Before you Go by Lewis Capaldi- which really allowed her to show off her skill set. She was also mixing her own songs on stage and shared the story of co-writing Psycho by Ann Marie and Aitch which she gave us a fun rendition of too! This really got the whole crowd joining in and excited. The support acts were really cleverly chosen as they represented the different facets of Tom Grennan’s music that he has produced throughout the years. A superb job getting the crowd warmed up for the main man himself.
After a half an hour wait, Tom burst onto the stage in an incredible floral Carhartt x Marni two piece which I was lusting after I won’t lie. As always, he commanded every inch of that stage with boundless energy. He opened his 24 song set, it was a long and impressive one, with If Only. He had the crowd hyped up from his first ten seconds of being on stage. He truly is a performer who plays to his audience and feeds off this hugely. The shape of the stage allowed a twelve foot runway to cascade out into the audience making the huge venue seem more intimate. His mic did go down for a few seconds but the sound team were hot on this and fixed the issue almost instantly. From the first song it was inevitable that it was only going to get better.
He kicked into the next section with a three song medley, so cleverly interwoven that it didn’t even need to break. Here we heard some of the tracks from his first album – Sober, Royal Highness and one of his greatest, in my opinion, Barbed Wire. I love it when artists still perform their earlier material as that is what often makes us fall in love with them.
His next song was a new song which will be on his new album – Psychedelic Kisses really did bring that psychedelic rhythm with the guitar and keys without losing that Tom Grennan sound. All of his new music still carried off his own sound like I mentioned earlier. He has really worked hard in order to achieve that.
The lighting on stage throughout was just incredible and matched the artwork meticulously which was shown on the screens. This had clearly been well thought out and planned to perfection. I particularly loved the staging where the photos of him and his loved ones were shown on screen during his brand new release Here. This made the concert seem really intimate although we were in a gigantic room. The use of the confetti cannons during this song were epic too and I spotted lots of people taking pictures of this. Throughout, he had no expenses spared as these cannons were fired twice, there were two lots of pyrotechnics and he even had fire on stage for the dance section of the gig. Very impressive and this really added to the production value.
He continued the show by playing a whole host of new songs from his unreleased album What If’s and Maybes which will be available in June. He explained that the songs on this album all resonated with jumping in at the deep end and getting used to being out of our comfort zones. I guess that’s what he has had to do with his career being thrown into the spotlight.
His supporting band were absolutely exceptional – he had a four piece band on stage with him consisting of a drummer, guitarist, bassist and keyboard player who later on in the show played the grand piano. My shining stars of the night were his backing singers who he used to perfection really showing their talents. Gospel sounding in voice and filled with passion. During the song Let’s Go Home Together he brought Angel forward to duet with him here. A really nice touch and he was genuinely lovely about her too!
One of my favourite parts of the night was him getting a young man (Joseph Meston) from the audience who had a sign which read – Can I sing Remind Me with you? He got him up on stage and I was praying he would be good. He took the roof off the venue and Tom said a few times – he’s better than me! What a way to make a young lads night! One he will remember forever I am sure.
My only wish is that Tom had ended the gig with A Little Bit of Love rather than the slower song he chose to. I think this would have given people the high they wanted to leave with. Instead I saw many people exiting the venue early which is such a shame. However, the final song was beautiful and meaningful to him so good on him for sticking to his guns and not doing the expected.
An electric evening with an abundance of energy from all of the acts. Impeccable, powerful vocals from Tom Grennan as we expected. He is continuing his tour throughout the U.K and it ends in April.
Venue – 4/ 5
Gig – 5/ 5