Tom Misch – O2 Ritz, Manchester – 02.03.2018

South-London singer/songwriter/producer/DJ Tom Misch sends Manchester’s O2 Ritz into a frenzy awaiting this highly-anticipated sold-out show. Despite the evening’s quasi-arctic temperatures, hundreds of self-proclaimed ‘Misch-heads’ flock to the venue, hoping to see if the singer’s chilled vibes manifest themselves as well live as in recording; needless to say this proved undeniably true.

For an artist whose sophomore album is yet to be released, Misch has generated an astounding amount of hype and exposure. As of present, Misch’s releases consist mainly of EPs and singles, with the exception of album ‘Beat Tape 2’, which the singer himself describes as having ‘made it stupidly’. His second album, ‘Geography’, due for release in April, has already drawn attention thanks to singles such as ‘Water Baby’ and ’It Runs Through Me’, featuring collaborations from friend and fellow South- London rapper Loyle Carner and Hip-Hop old-schoolers De La Soul. In an interview with mixmag, Misch emphasises his intentionality behind ‘Geography’, stating how he continually asks himself if the music he makes can be translated live instrumentally.

Misch’s ensemble definitely embodies this thinking. Composed of keys, drums, bass, violin/guitar/maracas and Misch himself on guitar, the group do not withhold any of their talents. However, technology is a prevalent part of the set, with Misch and stand-out violinist Tobie Tripp incorporating looping throughout the show. Opening with favourite ‘The Journey’, this instrumental introduction sees the build-up of excited tension with opening key-synth chords, and the release with Misch playing the distinctively soulful three-note motif, sending the crowd into cheers of adoration.

Misch is simultaneously amused and embarrassed by the attention. Clearly at ease on stage, rhythmically moving his head in pigeon-like fashion, addressing the crowd he is somewhat more reserved; ‘Manchester you are too much!’ he half laughs and smiles, resisting the urge to look at his feet. This is the first show of their tour, and Misch is clearly overwhelmed by the response, even thanking the audience for braving the cold to see him.

It is visible that Misch’s relaxed aura radiates throughout the audience. However, despite his mellow nature, the singer is not without a sense of humour. At one point the band pastiches the intro of The Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’ in the opening of ‘Colours of Freedom’, and a jovial yet bluesy guitar cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ sees both himself and Tripp round off with playfully-syncopated guitar scale sequences. Such homages highlight Misch’s musical inspiration, evident in his hybrid jazzy, soul-hop sound. Yet, a highlight of the evening is a stripped cover of Patrick Watson’s ‘Man Like You’. Misch’s vocals are crisp yet sentimental, echoing the nostalgia of the lyrics, putting the crowd into a harmonic trance.

Misch is also a generous performer. Having no issue with sharing the stage, the singer brings out a multitude of guests, such as an incredibly skilled saxophonist, his song ‘Movie’ being a family affair with sister Polly Misch, and performing ‘Disco Yes’ with support act Poppy Ajudah, who also features on this track. Interestingly, many of the tracks performed are new from the unreleased album. Whilst this may rustle those who prefer familiarity this, in fact, adds a layer of surprise and shared secrecy, with Misch giving a sneak peek to those lucky enough to have made it this evening. A particular stand-out track is ‘Everybody Get Down’, a groove-infused bop which turns the auditorium into a dancefloor.

Nearing the eleven o’clock curfew, Misch’s set draws to a close with an improvised guitar jam. As expected, the audience call for “one more song”, and Misch humbly returns to perform his classic ‘Watch Me Dance’, still dazed by his success. The end of the night sees fans keenly scramble for setlists, hoping to take a piece of the night home with them.