Sam Smith @ Birmingham Institute – 28th February 2014


Sam Smith is having one heck of a 2014, named BBC Sound of 2014 and picking up the Brits Critics Choice Award for 2014. Two from a long list of musical lists that has tipped this young talent for great things.

Whilst we were waiting for the show to get on the way you heard a remix of his track Nivarna by Until The Ribbon Breaks, and, with the bass thumping, Sam walks on to the stage, looks out at his crowd and feels the very charged beat then drops in the original, Nivarna. All you heard was him bellowing “Let me take you to Nivarna!” as the crowd erupted and you can see why, with such a pure strong voice with an exceptional vocal range, performing such powerful lyrics. He also performed ‘Love You Anyway’, ‘I Told You Now’ and ‘Latch’.

After a few years in the background supporting other people’s talent, most notably Naughty Boy with number one hit single “La La La”, and collaborations with the dynamic duo Disclosure, he is now soaking up all the plaudits that his patience has now earned him. Another highlight, a unique rendition of Arctic Monkeys ‘Crawling Back to You’, sends the crowd through the roof.

Sam’s style that can be described as stripped back Neo Soul, that has been careful constructed with a fantastic band, very meticulous sound so the attention to detail is clear for all to see. Honestly if you think that you enjoy Sam Smith’s music, this is someone that you have to experience live. His beaming smile reassuring you that he is feeling his work whilst entertaining the crowd. Special mention to his bandmates who pay so much attention to catching the mood and the sound that you would be forgiven for thinking was a wax record being played. His piano player Rueben James deserves particular praise, highly regarded as the next big thing to come out of British Jazz music by The Times. Having seen Rueben play live music for a number of years you can see why such praise has been bestowed on him -trust me he is so good- you get the sense that Sam and his respective bandmates are like a five -a- side team, and the best of the bunch has been selected to work on Sam Smith’s recordings and live shows. They scored tonight too, quiet a few times and won convincingly. This man is in a purple patch, he is making good music, with good musicians and performing great gigs. Just like to get in the venue, I am joining the long queue of people singing his plaudits, and I think we will be seeing a lot more of this great soulful singer and his amazing music for many years to come.

Review – Chadwick Jackson

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