Last Thursday, the triple BRIT Award winner Emeli Sandé graced us with a stunning show from the BBC Radio Theatre, broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 and on the red button.
What we have to remember about Sandé, is that she is no overnight sensation. She has worked her way into the music industry with much hardship – a feat she is not ashamed of, or afraid to remind us of. On this Thursday night, however, she more than proved her worth as Best Female Artist of 2013.
Her set opened with the song that started it all, ‘Heaven’, and quickly moved into ‘Where I Sleep’ and ‘Breaking the Law’, which was written for her sister. For anyone who has anyone that they have ever cared about, it is easy to see where the lyrics from this song have come from. I was glad she chose to perform the alternate version of this, as I feel it’s more powerful and gospel translates emotion so well. This, though, moved into ‘Clown’ where, once again, she reminded us what a hard slog the music industry can be, but the raw emotion she portrayed through the performance far outweighed any opinion the song may be harbouring.
What’s so touching about Ms Sandé is, that despite her still fairly recent explosion onto the scene, she still seems a thoroughly humble lady, who is extremely grateful to her audience for joining her, both here and in her performance from the Royal Albert Hall, which was released last month. You can’t quite appreciate how beautifully arranged many of her songs are, until you hear them live and ‘Clown’, with its soaring, yet sensitive strings is an exceptional example of this.
A stark contrast from her powerhouse-capable vocals, ‘River’ (similar to ‘Clown’), is a beautiful lullaby which she more than delivered, no doubt moving some of her audience to tears. Her rendition of this song truly allows her artistry and noteworthy vibrato to shine.
Following this, we were entranced through a stripped back version of “Suitcase”, using just a bass guitar with the subtle introduction of strings towards the end; ‘My Kind of Love’, where Sandé comfortably hit the high jumps which the song contains, and into ‘Maybe’.
‘Read All About It, Pt. 3’ seemed more confident than when she performed it at the Olympics last summer and as a result, the emotion of the lyrics, which tell us about what it takes to be brave, were really apparent here. I wasn’t sure about introducing the backing vocalists as I feel it would have had more impact and poignancy, were it left stripped back. The audience, however, seemed to enjoy it and they joined in with a rousing final chorus.
My least favourite track from the album ‘Daddy’ was full of technique, but the production of the performance didn’t do much to alter my opinion, as I felt her voice seemed overpowered by everything else going on.
‘Wonder’, from the Special Edition of the album was a different story. This is a real feel good track and you can tell that everyone enjoys getting stuck into its fun tribal groove. If you really want to hear it in all its ‘wonder’, the version from Live at the Royal Albert Hall is simply jaw dropping.
I couldn’t help but smile through ‘Mountains’, as the camera kept focussing on the violinist, who had clearly been fangirling throughout the entire gig, but as we raced into the iconic pop anthem which is ‘Next to Me’, which is unquestionably Emeli’s most recognisable single, she performed it with such gusto it more than justified her BRIT Award wins the previous weekend.
Thankfully, though, her wardrobe choice was somewhat less garish than her Olympic offering, but there is no denying this Aberdonian has talent and I for one cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her.
Our Version of Events: Special Edition and Live at the Royal Albert Hall are both available now.
This Radio 2 concert is also available on the BBC iPlayer.