Emeli Sandé at Brixton AcademyCultureMusicLive music
Supporting her critically acclaimed latest album Long Live the Angels, Emeli Sandé continued her triumphant comeback with a sold-out night at Brixton Academy. It’s hard to believe this is only her second solo release, following 2012’s Our Version of Events, but it contains all the fantastic material for a raw yet energetic show. Declaring that “the past three years have been a journey”, with one notable event being her divorce in 2013, the songwriter poured soul and emotion into her performance.
From the Olympic Stadium in 2012 to the arguably smaller space of Brixton, Emeli Sandé owns any stage she steps foot on by simply showcasing her impeccable vocals. The accompanying backdrop was relatively straightforward: a chessboard floor to match the album cover, and projected visuals reflecting each song’s theme with an overarching feel of nature. Sandé opened the show with the spine-tingling Selah, followed by the crowd-pleasing Heaven, which was the track that catapulted her to fame.
This concert was always going to be a delicious mix of both albums, with something for everyone: Tender, with all its glorious Zambian influences, an intimate duet of Beneath Your Beautiful, a joyful foot-stomping rendition of Wonder. Whether accompanied by the band and gospel harmonies or just one guitar, or playing the piano herself, the singer sang each number with feeling and impressive range. The set list jumped smoothly from a stripped-back rendition one minute to full band and drum solo the next. The best example of this was Hurts, paired with the projected graphics of a dizzying thunderstorm, launching into Breathing Underwater and the visuals of heaven-like clouds. This exemplified Sandé’s journey of tragedy to triumph, as she described Breathing Underwater as her hopeful “light at the end of the tunnel”.
Pacing around the stage in a red and black coat and belting out each line effortlessly even if not note-perfect, it was clear that the Scottish singer is still a world class performer who doesn’t need fancy gimmicks to get her voice heard. The gentler songs with a single, almost angelic, spotlight really stood out, whilst hits like My Kind of Love received a huge cheer from the crowd. New track A Little Bit Longer, a song of strength dedicated to everyone who had helped her along the way, made a surprise appearance too.
Although Emeli Sandé didn’t speak much between numbers, she told the audience she wanted them to “be lifted”. And with such a captivating live vocal performance, it was incredibly hard not to be.
Photos: Guifre de Peray
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Watch the video for Breathing Underwater here: