Despite the giant silhouettes of his face framing the Roundhouse stage, Tom Misch has managed an impressive rise while remaining remarkably anonymous. Still a month away from releasing his debut album, the south London guitarist has sold out two nights at the Roundhouse this week and played a prestigious outdoor show at Somerset House last summer.
We can credit a striking musical style. His jazzy guitar, head-nodding beats and smooth singing voice mix old school hip hop with the acid jazz era. At best, it’s soothing, sunny fare ideal for that Spotify playlist you called “Sunday vibez”. At worst, it’s Jamiroquai in a hotel elevator.
Here there was often a strange disconnect between the size of his audience and the passion both on stage and among the fans. Songs such as Movie and It Runs Through Me were disrupted by a significant crackle of crowd chatter. Misch, though lightning-fingered as he zipped around his instrument, was an otherwise undemonstrative performer. A brief cover of Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely grabbed the room’s attention for a singalong, and the arrival of his hometown anthem South of the River, with its stabs of violin from Tobie Tripp, also ramped up the energy in the room.
A guest-heavy set kept things interesting, with Misch’s two sisters, Laura and Polly, providing saxophone and spoken word segments, while singers Poppy Ajudha and Zak Abel offered bigger voices and movement. The loudest cheers were reserved for Loyle Carner, Brit and Mercury nominated for his own take on jazzy hip hop, who appeared at the close to rap on Water Baby and Crazy Dream.
All this enthusiasm for those not in the band suggested that Misch is a talented sideman mistakenly placed centre stage, but he’s found a unique place in today’s music scene regardless. Whether or not everyone gets it, he won’t be anonymous much longer.