Sam Smith brings a Storm to Spectrum
Bringing thunder to The Thrill of it All Tour
The biggest British event since the royal wedding made a pit stop in Shutter 16’s hometown of Charlotte, NC, Friday night as the outstanding Sam Smith brought down the Spectrum Center.
What would any concert be without an opening act up to par with the headliner? Country-pop songstress Cam (Sony Music Entertainment) took the stage first, mesmerizing the audience with her biting, twangy, pop-infused country set. You may not be too familiar with Cam herself, but you’ve definitely encountered some of her songwriting contributions. She’s written with artists like Miley Cyrus, Maggie Rose, and producer Jeff Bhasker (who’s worked alongside Beyonce, Bruno Mars, fun., and P!nk). Maybe you’ve even seen her live before, perhaps when she opened for Dan + Shay on the Where It All Began tour. Regardless of your history with Cam, whether you’re a die-hard or complete stranger, there’s a spot on everyone’s playlist for her sugary sweet tunes.
Track’s like “Diane” and “Mayday” found a place on her opening setlist early on, shortly followed by “The Road to Happiness” and fan favorite “Burning House”.
“My ex-was an asshole and I finally found my way away from that situation with the help of my friends and family,” Cam confided to the audience as the last notes of “Mayday” faded out from the speakers.
Bringing a blast from the past, Cam covered an old country classic, bring her unique tone to Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”. Though her setlists are often short, her musical resume is vast and impressive, meaning her opening slot for Sam Smith is just another day in the life of Cam.
Clocking in around 9:00 pm, the house lights darkened and an instant hum of electricity filled the venue as Sam Smith quietly, slowly, softly appeared sitting center stage on a chic wooden chair.
Fans were instantly on their feet as Smith fulfilled his dramatic entrance to “Burning”, quickly followed by “One Last Song”, both of which are from 2017’s The Thrill of It All.
“I’m Not The Only One” from 2014’s In the Lonely Hour concluded the third song of the evening as Smith took a brief pause to greet the room with a round of hello’s and well wishes.
The show carried on with “Lay Me Down” and “Nirvana” as he paid attention to the fans in the high seats, as well as the side of the stage. During “Nirvana”, Smith turned on his own riser and faced the pyramid-like peak at the back of the stage. The pyramid began to tilt outward at the peak of the song putting emphasis on the emotions Smith was portraying.
“How dramatic was that,” smirked Smith as the next track “Latch” filtered out through the sound system.
“This is my favorite part now, Charlotte,” crooned the British singer. “Let’s everyone take out their phone and let me see you.” An almost instant flood of phone lit up the venue, creating a constellation of tecno-stars. It could only be described as something out of a fairy tale. The countless lights along with Smith’s melodic voice made for an unique and unforgettable experience.
“For the last five or six weeks of my life, I have had the greatest honor of traveling around the world to do these shows with some of the most talented musicians I have ever met,” Smith said, acknowledging his backing band who more than excelled at their craft;remember, a frontman is only as good as his band.
Smith took the time to introduce each and every single member of his musicians: guitarist Louey, bassist Brandon, vocalist Lucy, Chris, Patrick, LaDonna, drummer Ginger, cellist Harry, and, last but not least, key master Reuben James. Knowing the group’s individual names helped bring their absolute magic to a deeper level, a more personal level. What a lucky night it was for Charlotte!
Leading Into “Like I Can”, Smith encouraged the Spectrum Center to sing the pre-chorus with him, filling the basketball arena with affirmations of “I can, can, can.”
“Say It First” off of The Thrill Of It All was performed next, and the love was literally rolling off of the audience in waves as couples snuggled closer together. Taking in Smith’s first wardrobe change, from his classically modern pink suit to a snug green button down and black dress pants, the crowd was mesmerized, intently listening and vowing alongside Smith who was singing with such raw emotion that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
“I want to sing a song right now. It’s a song that I really need to sing.” admitted Smith. “This is the fifth time we have done it on the tour, and it means a lot to me. At this time I haven’t seen my friend for a very long time. When I was writing my second album, I had been spending a whole year talking about heartbreak, and by the end of that, I was tired of writing sad songs. I sat down with a good friend of mine, Simon, and we wrote this love song. It’s about me and my best friends going down to the river and getting drunk and having a good time. This is ‘One Day at a Time’.”
A powerful speech for a powerful song about the strength of love, the purity of friendship, and the importance of community. With the conclusion of “One Day at a Time”, one of the most anticipated songs of the evening began to play from the numerous talented musicians that covered the stage. “HIM”, which has become an anthem of a sort for individuals of the LGBTQ community, rang through the speakers like a prayer, swelling and falling, ebbing and flowing in a way you can’t feel on the album.
“I am a proud gay man, and if you are proud of who you are tonight, Charlotte, let me hear you!” Smith called out to the crowd as a stream of rainbow lights filtered from the stage out onto the audience.
With the night growing older, Smith began to sing one of the first songs we fell in love with during the start of his career. “Stay With Me” brought down a storm of red confetti from the venue ceilings as once again Smith pulled at our heartstrings.
The final song of the evening has been flooding the web lately, especially with its remix being released not so long ago. During “Pray” Smith hit his knees and gave what energy he had left to the crowd.
“This has been my favorite show of the tour, Charlotte and I’m not just saying that. Please get home safe, and have a great weekend” Smith called out to his fans as the music of “Pray” faded out of the venue. Taking the seat he dramatically started the show from, Smith slowly descended into the depths of the venue, leaving us with goodbye kisses, and a full heart.
You still have chances to see the spectacle that is Sam Smith on tour this year! The tour is making its way through the Southern region before hiking through the Midwest and West Coast, before finally ending his journey overseas on the EU and Asia. Grab your tickets here and be sure to #twitfromthepit when you’re there!