Live Review: Tom Rosenthal @ Islington Assembly Hall, 10.12.2019

Tom Rosenthal has always gone against the current. His uniqe style of indie folk-pop has always been very self-contained to mainly acoustic songs that make you dream of long car rides under a starry night sky. Yet they have stayed on the right side of indie. For the past ten years, Tom has continued to make songs that are ridiculously catchy but feel homegrown; like a tight, warm hug. Until a series of small-scale 100 capacity gigs at the St Pancras Old Church at the beginning of 2019, most of the songs used to be cherished secrets, buried deep in the depths of Spotify & Co.

Today, a handful of new songs and a whole UK/EU tour later, Tom has returned to London with his sold out gig at the Islington Assembly Hall. This is where the changes begin and end again. The banner below Tom’s keyboard is still the one made by his wife. His accompaniment still consists of only a single cellist and a guitarist, which reflects his musical style perfectly: intimate, emotive, and wonderfully personal. He is still the same Tom Rosenthal, moving seamlessly from existential sorrow to jolly comedy. The haunting harmonies of the oh so popular ‘It’s OK’ make way for the uplifting brightness of fan favourites ‘P.A.S.T.A’, ‘Watermelon’ and ‘Red Red Red’, also known as the ‘fun sing-a-long bit’, where the audience does so.

Through the usual dressing of overwhelming emotions, endless smiles and even the odd dance number to the sunny ‘Love Loosens Limbs’, it becomes clear that the true power of Tom’s talent flourishes in his live performances. He jokes that it may have taken him a longer time to finally play his own gigs and so thanks the crowd for sharing the evening with him countless times. As he leaves the stage to a rapturous applause, everyone in the small venue silently agrees – Tom Rosenthal has finally arrived and he has come to stay.

by Laura Weingrill

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