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Tom Adams review: He certainly gained many new fans

PUBLISHED: 12:20 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:06 19 November 2018

Tom Adams performing at The Birdcage in Norwich. Photo: Patrick Widdess

Tom Adams performing at The Birdcage in Norwich. Photo: Patrick Widdess

Patrick Widdess

Singer-songwriter Tom Adams admitted to feeling nervous the last time he played The Birdcage in Norwich. A lot has happened in the five years since then.

Tom Adams performing at The Birdcage in Norwich. Photo: Patrick WiddessTom Adams performing at The Birdcage in Norwich. Photo: Patrick Widdess

The Cambridge-born musician has relocated to Berlin and has just released his second album Yes, Sleep Well Death, which is as ambitious as ever in depth and complexity.

The Norwich crowd may have been more familiar with support act Alex Carson, one of the city’s finest songwriters. His acclaimed band Wooden Arms are on hiatus and he showcased some of his new solo work. It was a diverse selection of songs rich in melody and poetry. They would have shone with nothing more than a simple piano accompaniment but Carson’s fingers leapt and danced all over the keyboard and he was fearless in experimenting with vocal effects and loops, at one point building an extraordinary soundscape with a guitar played with violin bow. He promised more shows next year around the release of his new EP which is certainly something to look forward to.

Tom Adams was joined by long time collaborator Dan Jeffries and between them they blended guitar, keyboard and electronics to create live renditions of Tom’s expansive recordings which Dan produced. They began with Seven Birds, one of Tom’s older songs from a self-produced EP, which may have been unfamiliar to many in the audience. The duo soon made an impact with an epic multilayered overture which gave way to Tom’s powerful voice, smooth, impassioned and soaring effortlessly to high octaves. They moved onto more recent songs with In Darkness proving a particular highlight. A crescendo of heavy guitar, distorted orchestral sounds and Tom’s dulcet tones rising above it all had the hairs on the back of the neck tingling. These intense musical waves which engulfed the small venue were contrasted with gentler moments creating a beautifully nuanced performance.

Tom Adams performing at The Birdcage in Norwich. Photo: Patrick WiddessTom Adams performing at The Birdcage in Norwich. Photo: Patrick Widdess

Another new song Cold Noise offered a softer contrast. Tom swapped his keyboard with Dan’s guitar for this tender, gently jaunty number, reminiscent of Tom’s earlier songs performed with long forgotten Cambridge band The Pixiphones.

The main set finished with touching song The Garden, about returning to his family home and garden when the world ends. There was enough time for the pair to accept calls for an encore with a couple more songs including Come On, Dreamer from Tom’s last album Silence.

I have seen Tom many times over the last ten years, growing from a teenager playing impressive open mic slots to a seasoned pro honing his distinct sound, but he certainly gained many new fans on Saturday night and hopefully he’ll be back soon to play to an even bigger crowd.

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