This was the home coming gig for Thom Morecroft and Chris Tavener’s The Long Way Home tour which closes finally on Sunday 26th Manchester at The Castle in Manchester. What has to be my favourite Liverpool venue at the moment, 81 Renshaw Street, was rammed to witness this triumphant home gig. Ably supported by Elle Rose Smith, Thom Morecroft finally took to the stage and took what was already a great night to another level entirely.

Elle Rose Smith

Elle Rose Smith
Photo Credit: Susanne Hodder

Thom cuts a fidgety figure pre-show, eyes darting around the room, acting as stage manager, MC and host – even doorman. However, as soon as he got on stage any apparent anxiety instantly dissolved, replaced by the steely resolve of a consummate performer. Those eyes became rock set, fixed, bathed in the blue stage lighting, and he teed o a beautifully paced 12 song set with the up-tempo Give Me A Why.

Not only did the evenings set showcase Thom’s considerable compositional talents, but also underlies what makes him special; that unique vocal style, with the quivering vibrato, which adds, when he utilises it, to the emotional complexity of the song, both musically and lyrically. For example, the beautiful Pride Hill with its English pastoral feel and shimmering guitar motif, taps into the listeners inner life: we all have a Pride Hill within. It’s also a night of artistic generosity, as Thom shares the stage with Dan Astles for Tip-Toes and Elle Schillere for the sumptuous The French Girl, one of the highlights of a superb night. Shades of prime Natalie Merchant from La Schillere here.

Chris Taverner

Chris Taverner
Photo Credit: Susanne Hodder

The venue starts to crackle with the opening lines of the blues tinged Daisy, with the audience joining in with joyful gusto, which proves as a cathartic clear-out after the melancholic I Lost You that preceded it. And after On All Night, where Thom was joined by all the evenings artists, he concluded his set with a highly emotional rendition of his mighty song The Beast, a voice shredding observation of the bleakness of alcoholism. The line Right on course and far away echos and haunts the night. And we are left exhausted.

What makes Thom Morecroft so special is not just his outstanding skills as a composer and lyricist, or his unique vocal style, but also his stage craft and presence. Jocular and seemingly absent-minded – surreal even – the audience warms to him and relaxes; yet in an instant they are, through the power of his music and lyrics, pulled to another place. And this is sometimes a pleasant place, and sometimes not. We are being invited to look within ourselves, by a particular lyric, a vocal inflection, a glacial guitar line.

Perhaps 2018 will be his year, and lets hope so. The body of his work to date suggests he has the credentials. The real deal indeed.

Find out more about Thom and his upcoming shows on his Facebook page here.

Steve Kinrade