How To Dress Well


On How To Dress Well’s (aka Tom Krell) second album Total Loss, there’s a song called ’Say My Name Or Whatever’ that opens with a spoken word monologue from a boy that ends with the line ‘the only bad thing about flying is having to come back down to the fucking world’, and that’s exactly how I feel tonight when leaving this wonderful show. I just wish I could have stayed in St Philip’s Church forever watching Krell deliver his modern take on scuzzed-up, emotional indie RnB (new genre for you there), it was that good.

The simplicity of the set up in St Philip’s suits Krell well, minimal staging aside from some beautiful projections, it’s all left up to him and his incredible voice and beats. Opening with the stunning ‘A Power’ from his brilliant new album What Is This Heart? it’s pretty much just one line ‘I don’t have the power’, building and building across it’s five minutes, backed by luscious waves of twinkling pianos and furious drums, captivating the capacity audience who are all sat politely in rows either side of the church’s aisle, quietly nodding along and sipping cans of Red Stripe. That doesn’t last long though, as people slowly make their way into the aisle to bop along to Krell’s danceable tunes, and by the end of the gig the majority of the audience is right down the front creating a mini disco in this holy venue.

He plays most of the songs from What Is This Heart, including a barnstorming ‘Precious Love’ which could feasibly be a huge hit for Beyoncé, a great one-two of ‘Very Best Friend’ and ‘Childhood Faith In Love’, and the dark, moody ‘Face Again’ which is backed by creepy pitched-down vocals from keyboard player that sound like they’re coming up from the depths of hell. It’s when Krell really lets fly with his voice that the gig peaks, and when he strips back everything to just him and a guitar for ‘2 Years On (Shame Dream)’ the results are absolutely spine tingling, the hairs all over my body standing on end, eyes welling at the beautiful simplicity of it all. He pulls the same trick again on ‘Suicide Dream 1’, which he preludes with a story about how it’s about his friend who died, and how he enjoys singing it because it reminds him of good time spent with his friend, and it’s just utterly heartbreaking. There’s barely a dry eye in the house.

When he finishes with the quite frankly banging duo of ‘Words I Don’t Remember’, with it’s huge breakdown ending that has everyone full on throwing-their-arms-around-dancing, and ‘What You Wanted’, in which he steps away from the mics he’s used all night to deliver the ending acapella, I feel like the boy at the start of this piece, just wanting to stay on this level, soaring above mere others who aren’t in attendance tonight. But alas, the flight must end and out we go into the Salford night, crashing back down to earth after flying so high. It was truly glorious.

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