Agbeko

20 October
Soup Kitchen

Agbeko raised the roof of the Soup Kitchen at their sold out gig. The Manchester 11-piece’s no holds barred performance was clearly loved by the packed out crowd.

The energetic band blessed the room with their unique blend of funk, jazz and afrobeat, storming through their set and taking no prisoners.

Proceedings started with the gorgeous ‘D.O.D. (Death Of Discourse)’, which included an incredible trombone solo. Vocalist Ellen Lewis relished her role as frontwoman, confidently leading the band through their set.

The band's new single ‘Leaders Of The Free World’ was a funky exposé of the powers that be and saw a belting sax solo, soaring vocals, and plenty of wah wah.

Lewis called on the women at the show to help her with the lyrics to ‘Submit’, a defiant, feminist stomper.

‘Where The Wires Cross’ pleased the audience with its gentle bass line and epic brass parts, whilst ‘Unite’ was well-received with its Spanish trumpet and catchy chorus. ‘Albert's Loss’ was a funky mosh of a song. Its heavy, driving guitar and Eastern sounding brass saw everyone getting into the groove. And the room went mad for the final song, the sun-drenched ‘Need Nobody’, which topped off the night.

Agbeko were like a party in a can; all fun and smiles with raw excitement. Go and see them if you can for one of the best gigs of your life.

Anna Tuck

Tom Odell

19 October
Apollo

Odell began his set with a focussed piano ballad, immediately captivating audiences with his stage presence, which was surprisingly large considering the majority of his time was spent behind the keys. It soon became clear that the ballad was the title track of his new album, Jubilee Road, a tactical opening to heighten anticipation. But new tracks didn’t dominate the set. Instead, Tom played a fair selection of fan-favourites, intertwined with singles from Jubilee Road.

After complimenting Manchester’s Apollo theatre, claiming it to be his ‘favourite venue in the world’, he slipped into the familiar ‘I Know’, from his debut album. This played out as almost a ‘welcome back’ message to fans, after over a year-long music hiatus, and consequently was warmly welcomed by all.

It was clear to see the West Sussex singer’s genuine passion shining through his performance - on multiple occasions he knocked away his piano stool in fits of enthusiasm. In fact, he almost left the audience with whiplash, considering how fast he diverted from playing with ease and delicacy, to quite nearly violently. Odell gave the audience his all and it would’ve been unreasonable to have expected any more from his somewhat intense piano outbursts.

Tom later took the opportunity to introduce his new track, ‘You’re Gonna Break My Heart Tonight’, as “the stage where the [new] album goes from mildly depressing to incredibly depressing”. This emotive performance, alongside many others, was accompanied with perfectly fitting moody stage-lighting, moving some audience members to tears.

Despite how melancholic the performance felt at times, he perpetuated humour through his charmingly awkward, yet amusing audience interactions - including his overly-modest responses to audience members’ keen, ‘we love you Tom!’ shout-outs.

There was a rather special moment in the performance, whereby Tom showcased his outstanding skill as a pianist, moving swiftly and precisely from one of his own ballads to Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’, to then conducting a beautiful sing-along to John Lennon's ‘Imagine’.

The set was complemented with multiple rock and jazz segues, to which Odell’s band contributed beautifully. Toward the end of the performance, the band took the opportunity to exhibit their musical talent in an extended jam, led by funk and bluesy guitar licks.

Odell's talent as both frontman and pianist are absolutely undeniable. His performance couldn't fairly be faulted, and his genuine love for music was apparent throughout. From this, I and the other fans cannot wait to hear his finished album.

Amber Dawson