Thetford Forest is not the best venue. Sure it’s nice idea, but when the stage is too low for anyone (not standing on a box) to see, the wind is so biting people are huddled for warmth, and the food so expensive that it’s tempting to pack your own barbeque, it’d be difficult to say that it’s a complete success. Luckily though, Sam Smith‘s performance was enough to take the night in a much more positive direction.
While his voice has long been established as strong, I had never heard anything of how he was as a performer. During TV and radio interviews he seemed shy, awkwardly fumbling words to the simplest of questions which, while endearing to some, doesn’t usually work to a sold out crowd. However, by the end of the first track it was clear that 1) His voice was much better than I had previously thought, and 2) He’s a strong enough performer to match.
The entirety of his debut album, In the Lonely Hour, was played, the bestselling singles, and the passable tracks, as well as covers such as ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, which turned out to be the highlight of the evening. Throughout all of this Smith was shouting out to the crowd, getting them involved, jumping, dancing, and just generally doing his utmost to see that his fans enjoy seeing him as much as he enjoys doing it. This wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing band that accompanied him, each section getting their own solo throughout the evening, so that by closing roadcall their cheers felt fully deserved.
It was quite incredible how the performance felt completely different, but incredibly familiar. These are the same songs that you’ve heard played on the radio a thousand times in the last year, the same distinct voice not sounding a fraction different, but with a completely different person behind them. These songs were written as the title of the album suggests, but when Sam Smith performs now it’s clear that it is no longer the case. Sure people are happy to enjoy sad love songs in their own time, but at a concert they want to sing along to songs they know, put those things in the past, and it’s good to see that the performer did that as well as the audience. If you have a chance to see him in future I advise you take it because, whatever the venue, he will make it worth your while.