Home // Music // Live Review: Sam Smith @ Islington Assembly Hall 26/09/13

Live Review: Sam Smith @ Islington Assembly Hall 26/09/13

Having featured on two of 2013’s biggest songs, it is strange to think that Sam Smith has only released one proper single. Seeing the turn out at the Islington Assembly Hall, it is heartwarming to see that people obviously really like him.

Sauntering onto the stage, Smith has a jovial, but commanding presence. Decked out in black jeans, and a rather fabulous green velvet jacket, he was automatically at ease.

It is always interesting to go to a show where the crowd doesn’t know much of the material – it can either be a total disaster, or wonderfully successful. In Sam Smith’s case, he managed to just about pull it off.

His second song, a new track called ‘Therapy’, was totally brilliant. Similarly, newly released ‘Nirvana’ went down well, with Smith’s vocals shining on the chorus.

The band was introduced, with the crowd going crazy at the mention of each name. In fact, there was a lot of love for Mr Smith. He comes across as very likeable, humble, but totally in control. When he started an almost acoustic version of Disclosure track ‘Latch’, the crowd sang along enthusiastically.

However, the highlights were number one hit ‘La La La’, and the almost anthemic ‘Lay Me Down’. Smith looked emotional, and I am sure there were tears in his eyes, as the audience sang back the lyrics: “Can I lay by your side/ next to you.”

The powerhouse that is Sam Smith’s vocal ability is astounding, and he excels in a live scenario. Unlike other singers, he doesn’t over sing with exasperated melisma. In fact, there was an element of restraint in his vocal performance. It felt like he was in control of every aspect of the show, not just on stage, but also the crowd.

Unfortunately, it was the new material that was the only let down of an otherwise perfect show. While not unpleasant, there was an element of safety – an air of Emeli Sandé – to the whole thing.

After the release of brilliantly dark ‘Safe With Me’, I was expecting something different. It seems, then, that Smith has decided to take a softer approach to his material. While this will probably lead to commercial success, it is a shame that one of the UK’s only solo male pop stars has decided to follow such a well trodden path.

- Alim Kheraj

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