British singer and songwriter Emeli SandÃ© took over the Symphony Hall on Monday as part of her “Real Life” UK tour. After releasing a new album in September, which was highly acclaimed in certain areas and left others with mixed feelings , the expectations for her concert were obviously high and I believe she reached them.
To start the evening, busker Ben Monteith delighted the almost full venue with his ballads. Only himself, a guitar (two guitars if you count the colourful one he had next to him) and a bass drum won people’s hearts with his love songs and covers. One of his highlights was definitely the heart-breaking “Home”, but also the cover which followed “Mr. Brightside”, during which everyone sang along, and personally I think it was a better version than the original. From busking on the Glasgow streets to this opulent venue, it was a massive change for Monteith but he made the most out of this opportunity.
With a strong Scottish accent, he interacted with the audience between every song and his charisma made everyone smile, ending his 30 minutes act with a room filled with ovations.
Wearing a simple but elegant dress, Emeli SandÃ© created a dramatic start by playing the piano for “Survivor”, introducing her new album “Real Life”. Her strong vocals filled every corner of the Symphony Hall immediately, as she danced from one side of the stage to the other. She continued with an older single, “Heaven”, released in 2011, which took us to the beginning of her musical career and made us realise how far she’s come in so little time.
Even though it was only the third song, the crowd sang along as loud as they could during “Beneath Your Beautiful” (Labrinth), which Emeli sang together with one of her backing vocalists. “Hurts” managed to give shivers to everyone in the crowd (pun intended) as the dynamic rhythm complemented the agonising lyrics.
Before starting to play “Honest”, a quieter song, she encouraged the audience to stop worrying about yesterday and to live more in the present, as tomorrow isn’t promised. After another Soul song, “Sweet Architect”, SandÃ© thanked everyone for being there, saying to the crowd “You make me stronger”.
The singer went on with two of the probably most uplifting and wholesome songs I’ve ever heard, “Human” and “Extraordinary Being”. She explained how she always felt like she was a mix of everything and that she couldn’t fit in a box, but she learned to be grateful for not belonging to only one thing. She continued: “We are all human and we all go through the same things. We should recognise the beauty of humanity which we often forget”.
Even though she sings about not being in love, the truth is she is — she confessed before “Wonder” (recorded together with Naughty Boy).
After another gospel-tinged song “Same Old Feeling”, also from her new album, we went back in time for “Clown”, SandÃ© reminiscing about her whole journey so far, encouraging us to always speak your truth because no one else’s voice would ever be as powerful as your own.
The setlist continued with the bouncy “High and Lows” and the infectiously cheerful “Shine”, but the time had come for the most awaited song “Read All About It, Part III”, which got everyone on their feet for a big round of applause. Her performance was as dramatic and powerful as I expected, and continued with the catchy “Next To Me”, which didn’t disappoint either.
Reminding everyone in the room than they are not alone and it’s okay to ask for help, “You Are Not Alone” put an end to the R&B night. The long and loud cheers made me believe that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed Emeli SandÃ©’s gig and it was definitely a good night.
- Beneath Your Beautiful (Labrinth cover)
- Sweet Architect
- Extraordinary Being
- Wonder (Naughty Boy cover)
- Same Old Feeling
- Highs & Lows
- Read All About It, Part III
- Next to Me
- You Are Not Alone
Reviewer/Photographer: Andra Tudoran