The Verse’s Alex Berdugo reviews and interviews Calum Scott at Brighton Centre on 19th October 2017.
The audience of Brighton Centre welcomed Calum Scott enthusiastically as he took the stage to support Emeli Sande. He looked humbled as the applause filled the prestigious venue. Taking centre stage in his loud, white and black diamond-striped shirt.
Scott and his band had just played the O2 Arena the night prior, so it was clear that tonight they were able to relax after the pressure put on them. However, being relaxed did not mean that they were sloppy. On the contrary, the band was as tight as can be and bounced off the crowd’s positivity throughout.
Scott gave authentic renditions of his singles and stayed true to the records, all the while letting himself be taken away in the moment. Rhythm Inside was a standout track. The thumping drum beat and solid bassline made it impossible not to dance and nod your head. Taking the song to new heights live. His songs had an energy that seemed to reverberate around Brighton Centre. The vibrant nature of the music was contagious and you couldn’t help but smile at the enjoyment visible on Scott’s face.
The drummer’s kit was surprisingly simplistic, but all the small gadgets brought new dynamics to the tunes. He used an electronic drum pad for samples that were faithful to the studio versions and made the band sound even more professional. Soulful lead lines from the guitarist expanded their sound further, cutting through the air like a knife. Simultaneously, the keyboardist provided the foundation of each song underlying every track. All these elements demonstrated how diverse their musicality was. Especially impressive when the components were combined together.
The most important aspect, however, was Scott’s voice. Superbly versatile, he pulled off upbeat and sombre songs without a hitch. No high notes were a struggle for Scott, and he could not be faulted at any point in the set. One of the highlights was when they played an unexpected cover of The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers and made it their own. Scott conquered the vocally challenging tune and it flowed seamlessly into their version of Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran.
It was a real treat to watch Scott also perform currently unreleased songs from his upcoming debut album. His passion apparent in every note. Some lyrics were a tad too cheesy for my liking (he often sang the clichés of swimming every ocean and climbing every mountain). Yet the music itself was consistently catchy.
Finishing his set with Dancing On My Own, Scott ended on a high. The song that made him famous was executed flawlessly, giving the audience exactly what they wanted. It had been a fantastic show and the ideal support for Emeli Sande; it was a shame he didn’t have longer to perform.
Alex got the chance to have a chat with Calum before the show.
Alex Berdugo: The Brighton Centre is one of the most prestigious venues in East Sussex. What does it mean to you to play here?
Calum Scott: It means the world! It’s an opportunity to support such an incredible person like Emeli (Sande) who I’ve looked up to for a long time. Her against piano is something that I started with as well, so she’s a bit of a role model in that respect. Especially coming to Brighton and doing it where I first started writing. There’s a special place in my heart for Brighton!
AB: So it’s a song-writing home for you?
CS: Yeah! I’ve been here and taken it seriously and actually put effort and emotion into what I was writing – for that to be a sort of snowball effect into my songwriting career. It’s nice to be back, man.
AB: I overheard you saying that, now that you’ve played the O2, everything will be easier. Have there been any other venues that have always been your goal to play?
CS: It’s the O2, you know! The amount of talent that’s been there is unfathomable to me, so that was the one I was more nervous about. For me now, it’s all a case of “yeah we’ve got the Three Arena and we’ve got Brighton Arena and we’ve got Leeds First Direct and Manchester Arena, they’re big venues but with the O2 I think I needed to get over that hurdle.” Tonight, the pressure is slightly less. I can give more and really enjoy it.
AB: Great! So apart from the singles that you’ve already released, what else can we expect from tonight? Maybe something from your debut album?
CS: All from my debut album! I wanted to sing a chunk of my music and use this opportunity as much as I can. To perform with Emeli and have her audience come to these shows, I wanted to show to a potentially brand-new audience what I’m made of. I’ve got the upbeat stuff, the ballad stuff of my debut album and a cover in there just to get people familiarised. My next single You Are The Reason, which comes out on the 17th of November, I’m playing as well. The reactions I’ve got so far are insane! I keep pinching myself because this is my day job now!
AB: In your song-writing process, who would you say are your main inspirations? Do you pull techniques from anybody in particular?
CS: I listen to a lot of varied music. When I was younger, my mum would put on stuff in the car like Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Meat Loaf, Cher and all these people with huge voices. I think, naturally, that’s where my voice has gravitated to. I started songwriting when I met my manager, when singing became something I love to do and a career as well. I do pull a lot from emotional writers like Adele, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran – the greats of our generation that write from the heart. One of my big things was my sexuality. I was terrified of talking about it and terrified of raising it with anybody. When I discovered songwriting, I found a way of channelling that and since then I’ve never been happier. If I can inspire one person to come out or feel confident about their sexuality, then all the hardships I’ve been through have been worth it.
AB: Do you think your music would be able to start a movement?
CS: Hopefully. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this album. I’ve got songs that are quite emotional and I want people to see into my life and have a connection. I think if you’re genuine and authentic with your writing, people can see that. People love something real… and I just can’t wait to have the album out!
AB: Sounds like it’s been a long time coming!
CS: I have fans that have been there from day one that are like “Christ Calum, when are you going to release your music?”, and I’m like “It’s literally just around the corner!”. But you can’t rush these things, they’ve got to be organic.
AB: Looking forward to it a lot. So, you recently did the single with Matrix and Futurebound Light Us Up. If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
CS: I would absolutely love to sing a duet with Adele. I saw her at Wembley and I was crying throughout her whole set! She’s somebody I’m completely inspired by and want to walk in the footsteps of. I love that however much success she’s had or how much money she’s got, it doesn’t seem to matter. Plus, she’s got an incredible voice! I’d also love to do something with Calvin Harris because everything he does is just insane.
AB: It’s like whenever he touches something it turns to gold.
CS: I’ve said it a million times! He can’t put a foot wrong as long as I’m concerned. I think that’s when all your best music is made, when you collaborate. You’re throwing all of your talent and all of your thoughts into one pot
AB: It’s important to be versatile and to be able to step out of your comfort zone. It sounds like you’re able to do that.
CS: I’m quite excited by pushing my vocal and seeing what I can do with it. It’s just fun! You’re exploring your talent and what you can do with it.
AB: What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about going on the road?
CS: Favourite thing is that it’s an adventure. You wake up in a different city, you’ve got some time to go out and explore and enjoy it. It’s just an exciting adventure! Worst thing is you don’t have any home comforts. I’m on a bus with eleven smelly lads! I miss home and family.