Review: Toby Sebastian at Bush Hall

By George Pizani

Credit: Mike Palmer

Equal parts Robert Plant and Fabrizio Moretti, Toby Sebastian cut a familiarly rockish silhouette when I saw him perform at a packed Bush Hall earlier this month. With his dark curls pushed back and shirt generously unbuttoned, I felt a fleeting cynicism about his carefully carefree aesthetic. My judgement was short-lived, and by the time Sebastian had delivered the final chords of his first song, I was entirely on board.

Shepherd’s Bush’s iconic Edwardian dance hall proved the perfect backdrop for a show as smooth as Sebastian’s. As his two openers (Nature TV and Jonny Morgan) played to an ever-growing audience, it became clear just how many of them were there for one thing only – Toby Sebastian. By the time the Oxford-born singer/songwriter took to the stage, both the main floor and the upstairs balcony of the venue were packed.

Sebastian’s talents extend well beyond the realm of music, with a string of acting credits that range from Game of Thrones to The Music of Silence (an Andrea Bocelli biopic in which the actor played the iconic tenor). In 2015, he also had a role in the star-studded Barely Lethal, an action-comedy for which Sebastian contributed five original songs.

Credit: MIke Palmer

Against the blue lights and mirrored walls of Bush Hall, Sebastian’s music swept through the crowd like a wave. With impressive confidence and wide-ranging versatility, Sebastian controlled the mood in the room with ease. Each song bled seamlessly into the next, and even when their tone or pace shifted, the patchwork of sounds was an experiential delight.

Up until the release of his latest single, “Down The Westside”, Sebastian’s sound was a bluesy mix of soul and funk, most notably exemplified in 2021’s “Midnight“, a track which featured the guest vocals of Florence Pugh (one of the artist’s three sisters). “Down The Westside“, however, is a departure from this gentle, dreamy tone, veering towards a sense of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism with an unforgettable hook and classically cinematic lyrics.

Sebastian’s Bush Hall gig was just one stop on his Something Romantic Tour, which will see him perform across Europe throughout the rest of April. He is currently working on his upcoming album release, and his latest single “Down The Westside” can be streamed wherever you get your music.