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Live Review: Thomas Headon's 'Headonween'

o2 Academy, Bristol - 31/10/2022




This time last year, indie alternative singer-songwriter, Thomas Headon, embarked on his first ever headline tour of the UK, following his rise to prominence in the music industry over lockdown, thanks to social media platform TikTok and his infectious, tracks mixing genres such as lo-fi, indie-pop and alternative. Last time the 22-year old, raised in Melbourne, Australia, before moving to London in 2019 to pursue music, was in Bristol, he played in the old warehouse, Marble Factory, mostly to a crowd of Bristol students seeking a good night out.


But tonight, we're all off to Bristol's o2 Academy for Headon's second UK headline tour, following a festival-filled summer. From early Monday morning, fans have already started to form a queue outside of the venue, showing that even torrential downpour couldn't dampen their moods. The line of young people dressed up for 'Headonween' in costumes ranging from fairies, pirates, men in black, the late David Bowie and even Headon himself, snakes in both directions away from the academy's doors, as they huddle under umbrellas and shelter from the British weather whilst sporting o2 Academy ponchos. This, however, does not halt the sheer excitement oozing from the street outside the venue; singalongs to Headon's best loved tracks occur and fans excitedly take BeReals and group photos to show off their high effort outfits.


Soon enough though, the doors have opened (albeit slightly later than anticipated) and the academy's capacity is slowly filling up as we stand in front of the huge backdrop stating, "You are currently listening to Thomas Headon", which interestingly, remains on stage for the entire show... even when we are not listening to Thomas Headon, but instead the support acts, singer-songwriter, Harriette (who comes onstage dressed for the occasion as a runaway bride), and indie-pop rising star, Will Joseph Cook (who claims to be dressed as YungBlud).

At a little past 9pm, the lights go down and Sinatra's Theme From New York, New York is played in its entirety as Headon's band come onstage, one by one. The interesting walk-on tune continues to play as there's a pause before Headon's imminent entrance.


For the past week on social media, Thomas Headon had been teasing his 'Headonween' costume for the Bristol show, wholly encouraging his dedicated fanbase, in particular those holding tickets for tonight's show, to dress up. There's a whole lot of excitement and anticipation in the air. An adrenaline rush as the stage door opens and someone holding a flashlight (presumably management) to guide the singer onstage stands before it. Speculation as to what Headon might be dressed as arises. Maybe Harry Styles, his absolute musical hero and inspiration? Maybe he's opted for the classic Scooby Doo Halloween costume?


Nothing could've prepared the crowd for what he did come out as though...


...Thomas Headon performed his entire show in Bristol dressed in an all in one shark costume. And honestly, it was so much better than any prior expectations we had of him. And just seemed to make so much sense.

Going straight into the high energy, indie-alternative and more guitar driven track, How Do I Know?, taken from recent release, Victoria (EP), Headon bounces around the stage with reckless abandon, as his fans, both in the rows directly in front of the stage, and even those on the balconies, jump along, arms in the air and singing at the top of their lungs to every word in response to Headon's command of "1, 2, fucking move!'


It's a setlist consisting of fan-favourites old and new; Strawberry Kisses has the same energy as its predecessor, whilst Grace has the whole crowd singing along to every word, including the easier to miss lyrics such as "I wanna talk to you!", "Not now, later". This is something that is shown during Clean Me Up, the track that arguably started all of this for Headon, after it went viral on TikTok during lockdown, helping to build up his avid fanbase, with the crowd even joining in to scream the subtle "awesome" spoken just before the first chorus.

The lighting and production on this tour is like nothing I have seen from Thomas Headon before (and this is my sixth Thomas Headon show in just over a year...). During Victoria, the eponymous track from Headon's newest project, a mirrorball fixed above the audience is lit up during the chorus, its reflections spinning and shining on the crowd and Headon in a really atmospheric moment. It's most effective, however, just after the middle-8 (I'm crying in the backseat as I'm holding her phone/It helps to have some fun/But not when you overdose/Should've told her that I loved her/Because now I'm alone"), really adding a deeper and more beautiful sense of emotion to the track.


The mirrorball makes it's appearance again later on in the show during Headon's purely acoustic rendition of Harry Styles's stunning album closer, Fine Line, to which the disco ball (perhaps a nod to Headon's 2020 alter-ego, Disco Tony) reflects blue light onto the stage and audience. The number is part of the 'tear-jerker' segment of the show (something that it has become increasingly clear that Headon is fond of, following acoustic and heartbreaking originals, Her and Carry On one after the other on the previous tour), following the slower ballad, The Most Beautiful Thing, which strongly resembles some of Headon's earlier SoundCloud tracks, where the crowd became a sea of iPhone torches.

The covers don't just stop at Harry Styles, however. An acoustic cover (although you wouldn't really realise that it was predominately acoustic) of Taylor Swift's 2008 hit, You Belong With Me, is played half-way through the set, the crowd jumping and screaming every word as if this were a Taylor Swift gig instead.


And proving that he really knows his audience and demographic well, whom the majority, like Headon, grew up in the early 2000s, a cover of the theme tune from hit Disney channel show, Hannah Montana, Best Of Both Worlds, follows providing a number that provokes the same excitement and reception from those in the crowd as the previous covers and Headon's own originals alike.

Tonight isn't just about covers and Headon's currently released tracks, however. At Thomas Headon gigs, you can always expect to get a little taster of what's next from him, keeping himself always one step ahead of his audience. Last tour, the setlist consisted of his entire upcoming EP played live, five months prior to its release. This tour, however, the crowd are treated to two new tracks which are seemingly from his next project, the cheerful Georgia (which at the time of writing has now just been released) and the moodier and more melancholy, but still with a musicality that builds, I Loved A Boy (which currently does not have an official release date).


Both tracks had been teased on Headon's TikTok in the months prior to the tour, however, only small segments of the studio version were used as sounds on his videos, so it still comes as a shock when the crowd appear to know the vast majority of the words to both tracks already, proving the real dedication and power his fanbase elicits.

Surprisingly there is no encore tonight. Penultimate track, Nobody Has To Know, a track that takes on a more alternative rock genre, opposed to Headon's usual bedroom-pop style, synth-led tunes, in almost a The 1975-esque way, is as always, Headon's rockstar moment, Fender Telecaster in hand, commanding the crowd to dance and jump to the beat (which obviously they do, and then some). The show closes on UrbanAngel1999, the lead-single from 2020 EP, The Goodbye EP, which also was featured on the hit Netflix original show, Heartstopper, earlier this year. And whilst I'm still not entirely convinced Headon actually knows all the words to his own song, this particular performance appears to have a lot less lyrical slip ups. Headon shouts "Go!", a mini-moshpit ensues and the ending of the song is met with Headon announcing "I love you Bristol!", to which the crowd goes wild for.


Bristol 'Headonween' was the last night of Thomas Headon's four date run of the UK, and his last tour here until 2024. But oh my God did it end on a high one. Now all that's left to do is patiently wait for Thomas Headon's next project to be unveiled and his next euphoric return to the south-western city.


Thomas Headon's new single, Georgia, is available to download and stream now.


Thomas's social medias:


Instagram: @thomasheadon

Twitter: @thomasheadon

TikTok: @thomasheadon

Facebook: ThomasHeadonMusic


KATIE HILLIER




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