Updated: Friday, 3rd April 2020 @ 8:54am

Gig review: Sam Smith @ Manchester O2 Apollo

Gig review: Sam Smith @ Manchester O2 Apollo

| By Nsofwa Kangwa

Four Grammys, three number ones, two Brits and one sell out UK tour, Sam Smith’s flawless vocals proved why the music industry is putty in his hands.

In just a couple of years, 22-year-old Sam Smith went from cleaning club toilets and gigging around London to collaborating with music heavy weights like Mary J Blige, Nile Rodgers and John Legend.

Now he was fronting his own sell out show at Manchester’s O2 Apollo.

Smith’s opening act, Kwabs, invited the audience to momentarily indulge in his distinctive baritone, performing tracks Wrong or Right, Walk and the impassioned Perfect Ruin amongst others – setting the bar well and truly high.

Before Sam hit the stage, you couldn’t help but digest the fact that you were about possibly hear one of world’s most prolific male voices of recent years.

However, the 90-minute show didn’t live up to expectation.

Opening with a blacked out stage, Smith delivered the euphoric Life Support, before revealing himself from behind an opaque sketched portrait ( the most thrilling moment of the night).

Instantly the audience was taken back by the magnitude of his range but it soon became apparent that Smith’s overall beige stage presence was undermining the excellence of his vocal ability.

As the 22-year-old churned out hits including the woeful Leave Your Lover and Lay Me Down, the imploring tale of unrequited desire, the emotion of Sam’s roller coaster love life enticed the audience who were eager to recite back every lyric.

Though Sam’s flawless renditions from his platinum-selling album The Lonely Hour were sonically perfect, providing everyone with a singing into the hairbrush moment, the London-born singer still lacked charisma.

There was only so much pitch perfect pinning you could listen to before you were left wanting a bit more oomph.

But there were elements in the show where Smith tried to inject versatility.

The Nile Rodgers influence of Together intuitively brought out a long awaited funk from Smith as he modestly two-stepped though the three-minute track.

However his hip thrusting bearded guitarist who jived enthusiastically in the background frankly outshined the star.

The tiny dance break in Restart added some much needed colour to the set, but the half-hearted electric slide didn’t make up for the overall lack of persona Smith was bringing to the Apollo stage.

Despite this, it’s hard to believe that Smith is only 22, his ability to connect to all ages through his romantic turmoil distinguishes him from any other male vocalist in the charts.

There’s no denying that the fluent runs, licks, and riffs Smith effortlessly carries along in his vocal make him a musical force to be reckoned with.

However Smith’s re-mastered lounge bar versions of club bangers such as La La La and the infectious Latch, highlighted the singer’s pageant like quality, making the Sam Smith experience lack lustre and panache.

Image courtesy of marcen27, with thanks.