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Concert Review: Sam Smith ‘thrills’ in Columbus for latest stop on world tour

Sam Smith performs ‘Stay With Me’ at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 24 in Inglewood, Calif.
Credit: Courtesy of MTV

Sam Smith was all smiles  when he performed in Columbus at Nationwide Arena Saturday night as part of his “The Thrill of it All” world tour.

In his second North American tour stop, the Grammy and Academy-Award winning singer effortlessly weaved his way through his set, not missing a note in the entire two-hour long show.

Going into the show, I didn’t really have any expectations, but I was curious to how Smith’s music, which is typically downbeat and somber in tone, would translate to an arena-sized crowd. I personally fell in love with his first album so much that I was nervous to even listen to his second album in fear of disappointment.

However, long before his final bow, budding country singer Cam opened the show. I’m not much of a country music fan, nor had I heard any of her music before the show, but with Columbus being a hub of midwestern country music fans, she received a very warm welcome as she performed songs like “Diane” and “Burning House.”

Typically, arena concerts aren’t usually intimate because of the sheer amount of people in one room, and since I guessed Smith wouldn’t have background dancers or any elaborate stage visuals, it was going to be a challenge to see if he could hold the attention of 15,000+ people for an entire show.

However, Sam Smith stepped up to the challenge and knocked it out of the park.

As soon as Smith emerged on stage and opened the show with a medley of “Burning” and “One Last Song” he initially was seated in a chair, somber and eyes staring at the floor. This immediately stood out to me because it was very reminiscent of his album cover for “In the Lonely Hour” – almost a flawless recreation.

With remarkable self-awareness, Smith was all smiles as he told the crowd how his music tends to be very “depressing,” but he had spent over a year working on planning this tour to make sure every audience member left the show feeling “happy” and “uplifted.”

With the help of his band and background singers, he accomplished his mission. Typically, bands and background singers stay in the background for big productions like this, but Smith’s stage crew basically helped him co-headline the show.

With each member of the nine-piece ensemble dressed in all black, to keep the aesthetic Smith usually emanates, each one got their time to shine center stage for impressive solos throughout. Their choreography was incorporated heavily throughout the show and he even let the band sing the entire second half of “Baby, You Make Me Crazy” without him.

He ran through hits from both of his albums like “Money on my Mind,” “Lay Me Down,” “Say it First” and “Too Good at Goodbyes.” He also used LED lights to display the official colors of the pride flag after he performed “HIM,” an empowering ode to the LGBTQ community.

Smith also performed popular loosies like “Latch,” “Nirvana” and “Omen.” His diamond-shaped stage centerpiece, which snaked halfway through the floor of Nationwide Arena, bloomed like a flower  as he performed his Academy Award-winning single, “Writing’s on the Wall.”

As he finished his set with a medley of “Palace,” “Stay with Me” and “Pray,” Smith left the arena to roaring applause the same way he entered, all smiles.

 

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