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Tom Grennan plays The Great Escape

Tom Grennan
Tom Grennan Image credit: nme.com

Saturday 19th May 2018 was an important date for Tom Grennan. It had nothing to do with an over-coverage wedding in Windsor or a kick-around between Chelsea and Man U. No this was much more important.

Today the boy from Bedford was playing a set at The Great Escape which wasn’t just for the packed floor of Brighton’s Old Market but also the thousands of people catching the action on the Box Fresh streaming device.

Grennan was spotted after a drinking session at a party. The morning after the night before his friends told him how impressed they were after he wowed the crowd with his rendition of Seaside by The Kooks, a far more interesting career than his role serving up warm drinks at Costa Coffee.

Caffeine probably had a part to play helping Tom to stay afloat with his first brush with fame last year when his guest vocals could be heard on Chase and Status’s All Goes Wrong. But now the 23-year-old is branching out, going solo…and if tonight’s show is anything to go by he’s gonna be around for quite some time.

The first song of the forty-five minute set, which is pretty long for a show at TGE, couldn’t be more apt. Just hours after Harry and Meghan tied the knot Gennan starts the night off with Royal Highness, already a firm fixture on the Radio 1 playlist the track sees everyone moving from the start. Even dads have cancelled their heart operations so they could be here tonight!

His distinguished gruffly voice takes us into Make ‘Em Like You before he introduces himself ‘I’m Tom. Tom Grennan’ and a cheeky plug which tells us ‘My album is out on 6th July’ something that he reminds us about throughout the next hour or so.

A track from the record, Lighting Matches, sparks a sea of phones having their batteries worn down as specks of lights are waved side to side. The lyrics touch on loneliness and with mental health becoming an increasing concern for today’s young population it could well be the song which ignites Tom’s career to a higher level.

‘The energy in Brighton is electric’ Grennan notes before comparing the sight to ‘A light in a desert field’. He chuckles to himself about the similarity he’s just come out with before shaking his head asking ‘What am I talking about?’

‘How’s your day been?’ he asks the anti-monarchy fans and the disheartened Manchester United supporters – Tom being one himself - out front. One shouts how much she loves him. ‘I fucking love you too’ Tom replies before apologising for his ‘potty mouth’.

Before washing his mouth out with soap there’s a small matter of finishing the set which includes his latest song Barbed Wire. ‘How many people know it?’ he queries…although we are not sure if the question is directed at the crowd or his band who have to restart the opening notes after a false start.

After the track – which goes off without a hitch second time around – our perspired star says he swears it’s ‘like putting jelly in my hair which is dripping down’ on one of the warmest weekends the festival has seen for years. He teases taking off his blue top stitched with the word ‘Luker’ on the back, an idiomatic Australian English for “money”, but he’s worried what his mum would say if she saw him topless on TV.

You would had thought judging how Tom was discovered titling one of his most popular songs to date Sober would be the last thing he had called it. But judging on its success we are pretty sure he’ll remember how the number went down in Brighton in the morning…unless of course he’s looking for a party.

“Where’s the party?, I wanna party after this!” he asks Brighton….So maybe his closing tracks All Goes Wrong, Found What I’ve Been Looking For and a solo effort of Something in the Water will be hazy memories come Sunday morning.

However Tom felt on 20th May it was an important date for this up and coming new singer. He just smashed The Great Escape, his own Royal Highness hasn’t bored the pants off anyone and as for his beloved football team…Well, let us just leave it there shall we?


Accessibility at The Great Escape: It’s unfair to judge the access at TGE as most of the venues are listed buildings which have been there for years. People with disabilities were offered a wristband which not only allowed them to jump the queue but also notified staff they should make reasonable adjustments when possible, for example one audience member at a venue was offered a seat and a disabled guest was allowed to watch a band from the top of the stairs in one of the buildings.