Producer, singer-songwriter and DJ Tom Misch has started to gain tremendous (and well deserved) popularity recently, emerging amongst a cluster of new London artists with music that is melodic and soulful, always with a touch of super funky baselines and feel-good beats. Having collaborated with the likes of Loyle Carner and Novelist, his music offers an alternative to the same old, mass produced, commodified rubbish that assumes young people want to hear about sex all the time and shows an artist that genuinely wants to share good music – helped by the fact that it’s produced by his own label, Beyond the Groove. Having already experienced how good he was at Parklife festival, I had been excited about this gig for months.
Waiting in the queue for the bar upon arrival, I assessed the demographic as mostly people under thirty, with those exceeding that stealing the title of hippest, with vintage sheepskin coats and walrus-framed glasses. Dreading the fact that the queue was quite big and seemingly had no order, I was surprised by how chilled everyone was: no pushing or laddish shenanigans, just a smooth easy ride to the front of the queue when it was my turn. For a primarily young crowd, everyone seemed calm and happy to be there, reflecting the kind of crowd Tom Misch’s music attracts.
The venue, Printworks, is in itself quite the spectacle inside. With a super urban, industrial feel, the concert took place in what felt like industrial storage space jazzed up with colourful lights and with a few bars dotted around. The juxtaposition worked here; merging together a live performance with an industrial space reflected both the way Misch’s music blends multiple genres and his own modesty as a performer – a really cool space for a really cool artist. Holding a capacity of 6,000, the narrow hall extended far backwards and felt almost full – a true sign of how much people are enjoying the music Tom Misch is creating. Unfortunately, the logistics of the hall meant that it was impossible for anyone further than halfway back to see the stage, and at times almost felt like we were just listening to the music through the speaker, taking away some of the intimacy that is such a key part of his sound. Also, this meant not being able to see the best part about Tom Misch live: his bass face, a.k.a. ‘groovy turtle’.
That aside, he more than delivered on the music front. After a small build up, the intro chords to ‘Colours of Freedom’ burst in, a perfect choice to start off the set, demonstrating his totally unfazed and effortlessly cool stage presence and getting the crowd moving with its enticing combination of electronic riff, funky bassline and soulful melody. The increase of texture gradually built up the crowd until they were ready for the rest of his set, which included ‘The Journey,’ and ‘Beautiful Escape.’ By the time he got to performing his final tune, ‘South of the River,’ everyone had literally gone into full groove. As the song ended, a sense of anticipation filled the room as everyone hoped for an encore. He re-emerged and played ‘Watch Me Dance’ (a personal favourite), permeating between dreamy mellow acoustics and another groovy beat, showing the true range of his abilities. To top it all off, you could see his genuine appreciation that people were there to listen to and support his music: the ultimate reward for any fan.
Worth mentioning is Tom’s support act, Laura Misch – his older sister. Also a genuinely talented musician, her smooth, jazzy style was the perfect way to begin the evening: really easy listening but with such a sophisticated and cool sound, complimented by her low silky voice and occasional interludes of the saxophone.
Verdict: Like his music in general, his live performances communicate a fun, easy-going vibe. Though such a modest performer, he’s an incredibly talented musician whose sound is endowed with genuine soul and feeling.