Review: Sam Smith 7.18.15

By Patrick Bogans

July 19, 2015

On the mend from vocal cord surgery and back on the rise, Sam Smith delivered an effortless performance to the Charlotte crowd on Saturday night.

No one has been more anxious for Sam Smith’s return to the stage than Sam Smith himself. Since his vocal cord hemorrhage surgery back in May, Smith has spent months recovering, waiting for the day to sing to his adoring “Little Sailors.”

After easing in and performing a few shows in Europe earlier this month, Smith finally received an official “all clear” earlier this week from his doctor in Boston – just in time for the start of his North American tour.

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His first performance in Louisville, KY, on Friday evening ended abruptly due to dangerous weather conditions. So tonight at Time Warner Cable Arena, an enormous and diverse Charlotte crowd was eager to experience Smith’s first full set in North America since his recovery.

A little after 9 p.m., the stage curtain dropped, revealing Smith staring into the crowd. Accompanied by a full band and a sea full of iPhone screens, it was time to see how well Sam Smith could perform.

Spoiler alert: Sam Smith’s voice is still extraordinary. You could tell right from the start that his voice was back, and possibly even better than before.

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Smith began the night with beautiful renditions of “Life Support,” “Together” and “Leave Your Lover.” His vocals have always been extremely impressive, but are even more so, once you realize what they’ve been through.

“I still can’t believe how fucking big this room is,” Smith laughed after singing “I’m Not the Only One,” one of the seven singles from the acclaimed album, “In the Lonely Hour.”

The middle of his set was a string of his more lively composed songs, including “Nirvana,” “Like I Can,” and “Restart.” The songs  were enlivened on stage with charming little dance numbers and passionate vocals from Smith and his accompanying singers.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 13:  Singer Sam Smith performs with Disclosure onstage during day 3 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 13, 2014 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

These soon transcended into covers, one of which was a beautifully sung tribute to Amy Winehouse, melodically melding together Amy’s “Tears Dry on Their Own” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

Right on the other side of a quick break, Smith brought it down with haunting performances of “Not in That Way” and “Lay Me Down.” Slowly swaying back and forth, he serenaded the crowd with vocals that sounded like they were played  right off the album. Following every final note, Smith smiled hard as the crowd cheered even harder.

His album, “In the Lonely Hour,” has had a strong impact on the world of music, receiving a multitude of Grammy’s and plenty of other accolades. Using his incredible voice – the voice he belts and the voice in which he writes – Smith has been able to express his struggles of love and heartache.

His lyrics detail his own troubles, and in turn, give a voice to the millions who have gone through similar emotional battles. “These songs are your songs,” he assured the crowd at Time Warner Cable Arena.

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Smith wasn’t afraid to communicate to the crowd candidly about the origins of his songs.

He recited his drunken mistakes after a heartbreak (“I was basically in love with him and he didn’t love me back and it was fucking depressing”), and detailed his frustrations with a money-hungry producer (“They basically pissed me off so much that I wrote this next song”).

Smith’s transparency is one of the many things that make him so powerful, on stage and off. He concluded the night with favorites “La La La,” an acoustic performance of “Latch” and of course, the smash-hit  “Stay with Me.” After every one of these concluding performances, Smith received cheers that rival the applause given to Taylor Swift in that same venue.

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Sam Smith performing “Stay with Me” right before exiting the stage is cruel and ironic. After a bow, more than a handful of “thank you’s” and a few kisses to the crowd, he was gone.

Earlier on, Smith disclosed: “This is the best start of a tour I’ve ever had in my entire life.” Safe to say, Sam Smith gave everyone in the audience one of the best nights of theirs.

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