Emeli Sandé brings charm and stunning vocals to Hammersmith Apollo
Emeli Sandé is fast becoming a pop legend. Rising to fame in her teens, she has sung at the White House and at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London. Now, to mark the hotly-anticipated release of new album Real Life, the singer is taking her powerhouse vocals on a tour of the UK and Ireland. Judging by last night’s performance at the Hammersmith Apollo, it’s not to be missed.
The show offered a glimpse of the new album with a liberal sprinkling of old favourites to please her audience, whose devotion was obvious from the gig’s first moments. Survivor, a new track, was a robust opener. Sandé introduced the gospel-inspired vocals and snare drum-heavy backing that characterise Real Life, following it with smash hit Heaven to create a balance between the classics and the newer material. The reaction to Heaven was electric: enthusiastic whoops greeted almost every line, and the singer correspondingly amped up her performance.
Sandé is an exceptionally engaging performer, showing real enjoyment at every stage of the show. Her physicality framed her stunning voice: moving around the stage with small steps and at times almost doubled over, she invited viewers to concentrate as hard as she did on the effortless sound emanating from her. Her palpable connection to and understanding of each track broadcast her status as both songwriter and singer. Her versatility, too, shone throughout the set. Pop tracks like her debut single Wonder were a production-heavy energy boost, while at other moments – notably during standout track Clown – Sandé took to the piano for a solo performance whose depth of emotion easily matched the show’s dance-along highs.
None of the obvious hits were missed – Clown, Suitcase and Beneath Your Beautiful all got a look-in, as did a late performance of Next to Me, to raucous cheers and enthusiastic singing along from the crowd. But the solid presence of new tracks beckoned the audience towards a future Sandé who is far from tired. Extraordinary Being was a highlight, marrying the intensity and raw beauty of the singer’s voice with the hype-girl lyrics that are fast becoming a trademark (“You are what God imagined, you are a true perfection”). Ending with rallying-cry ballad You are Not Alone, Sandé triumphantly acknowledged her debt to Nina Simone: the song bears the influence of Simone’s I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free, which she has covered in the past. Mixing charm with passion, Sandé has once again cemented her position as one of pop’s most likeable solo artists.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Emeli Sandé’s website here.
Watch the video for You Are Not Alone here: