Sam Smith Shines, Electrifies Audience at Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles [Review]
There's no doubt in my mind that Sam Smith is one of the finest and most impressive new talents to reckon with on the pop scene this year. After the success of tracks like "Latch" and "La La La" overseas, he has stepped into the limelight stateside with a firm shot at breakthrough success in America. I saw Smith's very first show in Los Angeles late last year at The Troubadour and was blown away by his confident stage presence and effortless vocal delivery. Smith has one of those rare voices that hit you right at the core and make you feel the exact intent of the song he's emoting.
Sam Smith returned to Los Angeles this week (in conjunction with his stint at Coachella together with his pals of Disclosure) to perform at Belasco Theatre. Smith's popularity has accelerated over the last few months and he played two nights in a row at downtown's historic venue to give as many fans as possible the opportunity to see him live. One of the things that struck me immediately was how many passionate fans had lined up early to see him. That level of fan enthusiasm and commitment this early is a very important indicator of how fast things will develop for Smith.
The British soul-pop crooner played a robust set of new and existing songs including "Money On My Mind," "Nirvana" and "Leave Your Lover," the song that got him noticed and kicked off his career. He also performed the hit singles "Latch" and "La La La" that he worked on with Disclosure and Naughty Boy respectively. He also threw in a cover of Arctic Monkey's "Do I Wanna Know" for good measure.
Each and every song was presented with a dose of gravitas and a heartfelt emotion that had the crowd hanging on to each and every note. Humble yet confident, Smith's incredible soulful vocals seems to come so naturally to him as if it takes no effort at all to move his audience so deeply.
Smith encored with his current U.S. radio hit "Stay With Me" that's taken from his forthcoming debut album The Lonely Hour. It's a gospel-tinged song of majestic beauty that fit the classic Belasco perfectly. One of the night's highlights was when Howard of Disclosure joined Smith for the first part of the encore to perform an acoustic version of "Make It To Me" that was truly moving.
Prior to one of the two shows at Belasco, Smith sat down with a group of college students for an installment of GRAMMY University's Soundcheck series. Students quizzed asked Smith about his sudden rise to fame and his forthcoming debut album. "It all happened very quick for me," he tells the students.
He adds, "I moved to London when I was 18 and started working in a bar. I really hustled my way for a few years, paying rent and stuff, and then luckily I met some incredible people. I wrote a song called 'Lay Me Down' and thing just snowballed. Things from there just happened so fast."
Smith also shared with GRAMMY U students how important it is to find your own voice. Prior to his success, Smith tried out different musical styles and struggled in the music industry. Everything changed when he started writing his truth. "I found that I found myself as a writer and singer when I started speaking the truth in my music," he explains. "Don't focus on sound. Just pour who you are into a song. It's what I have done on my entire album, it's brutal honesty."
April 19, 2014 | Permalink