By Jake Ebdale
Artist: Sam Smith
Date / Venue: Wednesday April 22nd, Vector Arena, Auckland
Sam Smith is one lucky fella.
With a very quick ascent to fame - two years ago, he was a nobody - Vector Arena was filled with rapturous applause, thousands upon thousands of teenage girls doting on every mopey lyric. It was some of the loudest shit I've ever heard.
Smith's emotional, somewhat downtrodden music really bridges the gap here in NZ. He's a male version of Adele with the underdog appeal of Ed Sheeran; a wonder Boy George all dappered. Based around his big debut In the Lonely Hour, the set was a brief, safe, entertaining show.
Smith played the jilted lover, unintentional heartthrob, and most of all, the superstar. His big face and earring was there on the screens, gushing, smiling. It was great. On the other hand, people on the floor were flat out drunk, getting dragged out; grown men and women starting fights. It was all a bit ridiculous. There were parents and executive types clapping out of time and talking through the songs they didn't know, which sucked if you were next to one. Which I was.
A sold out gig, there were the obvious highlights, especially the big singles. ‘I'm Not the Only One' was played early and faithfully. ‘Money on My Mind' shoehorned in CeCe Peniston's Glenfield Skateland anthem ‘Finally'. His Disclosure feature, ‘Latch' was slowed down; Smith asking for cell phones up (still really cool to see, even if it happens at damn-near every Vector gig).
‘Stay With Me', his Grammy winner and mammoth hit record, was the closer and the moment that gave you the big fuzzies.
May I be honest? It was a bit run of the mill - his band cranking out some faux Prince runs, two looking like Duck Dynasty in suits. ‘Do you know this one, Auckland?' (SCREAM) ‘This is the best show yet'. But when it was just Smith's voice stripped down to its sulky essence, like on latest single ‘Lay Me Down', he transcended the clichés. The man really is a superstar with a stellar voice. And him pulling out the hot steps with the audience was a hoot.
It worked. I can't say I'd listen to his album from start to finish after that - 75 minutes of diary confessionals gets a bit tiresome - but overall, the Sam Smith show was good, clean fun.