Emeli Sandé at the O2 Arena
Promoting her new album Long Live the Angels, Emeli Sandé took to the O2 Arena stage for an emotionally charged if somewhat unexciting performance.
Appearing in an all-black jumpsuit with a gold string bolero, the Scottish singer was accompanied by her full band decked out in angelic white, including her three-piece brass, back-up singers the Halos, two drummers and her guitarists.
Launching into a popular track from the new album, Hurts, there was an immediate sense that Sandé was a little overpowered, something that was remedied later on, but all the while set the tone for a performance that lacked a certain fire to it.
The singer-songwriter gained critical success back in 2010 featuring on tracks with Chipmunk and Wiley, before her own record Our Version of Events spent ten non-consecutive weeks at number one and became the best-selling album of 2012 in the UK, with over one million sales.
After a break of four years, though, it seems that Sandé’s new release just doesn’t have the same impact on stage as her previous work. Perhaps this is because it focuses more heavily on heartbreak, stemming from her recent divorce from her childhood sweetheart.
These are deeply personal songs, and for a grand stage like the O2 Arena, the performance felt a little too refined, almost robotic in the way some tracks like Lonely and Give Me Something blended together. There is no doubt Sandé is an exceptional lyricist and musical talent, but the show suffered from feeling overly rehearsed.
At multiple points, there was an itching sense the band needed to let loose on numbers like Breathing Underwater. Their talent was evident and desperately desired the breathing room for some instrumental solos to break the monotony of some of the artist’s duller ballads.
The singer-songwriter’s strongest moments came when she left the main stage and reappeared on a smaller platform in the centre of the crowd with just a guitar and piano accompaniment. Here her voice shone and a rawer, emotional rendtion of Clown and River, along with an audience-centric rendition of Read All About It, cemented themselves as highlights.
Sandé thanked her fans for sticking with her on her journey and spoke about her dream of playing at the O2 Arena. She rounded off the evening with her more energetic hits, Highs and Lows and Next to Me.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit the Emeli Sandé website here.
Watch the video for Hurts here: