Sam Smith Brings The Thrill Of It All To Los Angeles With Dramatic Flare Grand Stage Production Compliments Singer's Mellifluous Voice At The Staples Center
LOS ANGELES, CA- Sam Smith’s sophomore album, The Thrill Of It All, is an album that shines a light on the emotional depth of the singer’s soul. Saturated with dour themes of heartache and internal conflict, Sam left his heart in the studio on this effort, pouring out as much intensity as he possibly. It’s really no surprise to hear that he “finished each performance by either crawling back to bed or collapsing in the vocal booth” after each recording session. The Thrill Of It All gives the listener a deeper look into the soul of the singer. Touring in support of the album, Sam Smith graced the Staples Center stage for two nights, bringing his hit-laden repertoire to life for adoring fans.
Backed by solid players who bolstered the soul and gospel elements of his music, Sam’s music was spot on throughout the night. When he wasn’t nailing melodies with his supple tenor voice, his fans sang in his stead, belting out lyrics with as much gusto as the singer himself. Perhaps the loudest audience choruses echoed during Sam’s LGBTQ anthems like “HIM”. When fans weren’t singing or dancing along to the evening’s music, they were waving illuminated cellphones in the air at the singer’s request making for a visual spectacle that the singer soaked in with visible appreciation. He took a few moments to address the Los Angeles audience about his love for the city, and reminisced how unbelievable it was that only 5-6 years ago he was playing the 400 capacity Troubadour.
But what made Sam Smith’s performance particularly entertaining was the grandiose stage production of his show. With an enormously popular repertoire to draw from, he could have easily performed on a simple stage illuminated by a single spotlight, and the crowd would have still been satisfied, but Sam clearly wanted to give his fans as much bang that their buck could afford. His stage was backed by an initially Star Trek shaped “living structure” that morphed and illuminated in different patterns and shapes throughout the evening and had a long runway that reached far into the pit of the crowd which Sam walked and danced down consistently.
[Editor’s Update: It’s has been pointed out that the “living structure” in its basic form could be meant as an ode to the London Eye.]
During the performance of his Oscar-winning (James Bond: Spectre) song “Writing’s On The Wall”, the shaped “living structure” slowly morphed as a bright spotlight shone down on Sam who was elevated down the catwalk. Following the performance, Sam joked, “How f*cking dramatic was that?” And that’s what made the entirety of his performance so brilliant. Again, the music aside, the performance as a whole was about as dramatic as they come. The stage production absolutely complimented the music being performed. And whether Sam was dancing down the catwalk, singing from an elevated staircase or jamming with his band, the stage gave the music even more life than it already had.
By the time the music had concluded, and Sam and his players left the stage, credits for the evening’s entertainment scrolled down the huge LED screens that were aligned on the the sides of the stage. This was the first time I had ever noticed credits for a concert performance presented overtly following a performance, but given how “dramatic” the performance had been, it seemed fully appropriate.
Opening for Sam Smith was the wonderfully delightful Beth Ditto. Her gregarious personality was on full display during her performance as she joke about “Who is this Sam Smith?”, offered the notion that “Sam smith is with his girlfriend” (when Sam has previously announced that he was gay) and asked the audience if there was an expert wig maker in the house as she was having some difficulty with her evening’s tresses on stage.
The highlight of her performance was when she paid tribute to the late Aretha Franklin by singing in her powerful voice a cover of “Natural Woman”. She even paused her own performance for a spell in order to file up the audience to sing along louder. Once the audience’s voices were loud enough, Beth took a moment to applaud them for their respect.