Sam Smith performed the first of his sold out shows at the Eventim Apollo last night (Thursday 6th November). It was a night to remember for both Smith and all the fans that came out to watch him perform songs from his hit debut album In The Lonely Hour.
The support act came in the form of London three-piece Years & Years. To see a picture of Years & Years you would think they were your generic 2014 boy band (albeit, very Friendly Fires-esque) – they are three good looking guys, with a serious sense of style. However, upon seeing them supporting Sam Smith last night, my preconceptions of boy band bliss were very wrong. Frontman Olly Alexander had just the right balance of confidence and shyness. His powerful vocals give him something to be very proud of, as they rang around the histroric venue. However, the humble thanks in between songs showed how the scale of venue was pretty overwhelming for a relatively new band like Years & Years. Their style of electo-pop is infectious and I can see them having a very successful future with tracks such as ‘Desire’ and ‘Take Shelter’ relieving very favourable crowd reactions.
Before long the main event arrived, Sam Smith on his sold out headline tour. I feel like I’ve been with Sam Smith on his journey over the last two years – featured artist on some of the hottest tracks in 2012, turned global superstar here in 2014. And you know what, I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving. His performance at the Eventim Apollo, the first of two sold out shows at the venue, showed Smith in a different light than I’d ever seen him in before. I saw a side of Smith that made him instantly more likeable as a human being, rather than the flawless singer-songwriter he’s been portrayed as in the media. The fact that he addressed the crowd so often and at one point said “you know what, I’m shitting myself” showed a human side to Smith in what can often be the false world of celebrity culture.
Another factor that stood his performance apart from previous times I have seen Smith is that he had a full band on stage with him, including a stunning string section. In The Lonely Hour has some phenomenal orchestration, especially for strings, so to have these being performed live alongside his vocals was an amazing experience that lifted the album from hearing it on record to something extra special on tour. Also, I must note that three backing singers were phenomenal and showed so much energy throughout the set.
He played songs from his debut album In The Lonely Hour but also added in some special performances that were not to be expected. For example, you might have seen him covering Whitney Houston’s famous track ‘How Will I Know’ for an American radio station, he reenacted this in the live setting with just him and his keyboardist. The stripped down, slowed down version of the track went down so well with the crowd in Hammersmith that they were clapping and cheering for longer than I’ve ever heard at any gig. Smith, humble as ever, had to stand and take it while the crowd got louder and louder in appreciation for the singer. This happened on multiple occasions throughout the set, in particular after performing his hit single ‘Money On My Mind’. It wasn’t simply a performance of the track as you’ve heard it before, a fantastic mash up of ‘Money On My Mind’ with CeCe Peniston’s ‘Finally’ transformed it into a performance everyone in the Apollo was dancing along to and will remember for a long time.
Overall, Smith’s performance was effortless. His voice is one of the most powerful in the music industry at the moment, and this can not be underestimated. Performances like the one last night put him up there with the likes of Adele in terms of British powerhouse singers. His talent shines bright and soon we won’t be seeing Smith in venues such as the Apollo, he will be selling out stadiums.