Sam Smith offers soulful, passionate show at UIC Pavilion

Sam Smith

Crooner Sam Smith’s soulful, passionate show left the crowd cheering for more and lighting up the UIC Pavilion with their cellphones. — Photo: Nick Dorey

By Sonia Vavra

It seems like a rarity nowadays for a pop artist to manage a stellar voice and endless amounts of songs about love and heartbreak — while not seeming too redundant. Sam Smith is able to do this, and flawlessly.

What makes Smith so unique is how extensive his talents are. Not only is he able to hit notes from completely different octaves, but his song styles also range from soulful love songs to catchy pop hits to stripped-down acoustics. And all are done so well that the listener keeps wanting more.

I first discovered Smith when I heard “Latch,” a song by Disclosure that he’s featured in. It’s hard not to fall in love with Smith’s luscious, soulful voice, and I fell in love with it all over again when I saw him perform at the Pavilion Jan. 23.

I couldn’t contain my excitement as I stood in the crowd waiting for Smith to appear on stage. Finally he appeared behind a sheer curtain depicting two mirrored outlines of his face.

After gazing out at the audience, the curtain finally dropped and Smith, with full band and backup singers, opened with “Life Support.” During this song, and often later on, I found myself clutching my chest to calm my beating heart.

Smith told the crowd that the last time he performed in Chicago, it was his favorite show in the U.S., but it got bumped to No. 2 by a show in Georgia. He said the show was our chance to redeem ourselves.

Challenge accepted.

Smith started a dance party during his performance of his groovy number “Restart,” telling everyone to get on their feet and directing the moves for the crowd to dance along with.

There were cheers from the audience at the end of each song, especially favorites such as “I’m Not the Only One” and “I’ve Told You Now,” which are excellent examples of Smith’s vocal talents.

Some of the best moments of the show were when Smith performed acoustic versions of some of his hits, such as “Good Thing” and “Lay Me Down,” which slowly built up into a musical uproar featuring the rest of his talented band and backup singers.

The audience kept cheering for more after Smith performed his final song, “Money on My Mind,” and left the stage. Smith returned and asked the audience to hold lit-up phones while he performed an acoustic version of one of his debut songs, “Latch.”

Before he could finish the song, the audience was endlessly clapping and cheering, and Smith couldn’t hold back his smile on stage. Right after he finished the last line, he said, “You’re No. 1 again, Chicago.”

To end the show, Smith performed one of his most-loved songs, “Stay With Me,” and the entire audience, including myself, sang along.

Smith’s show was one of the most soulful, exciting and passionate concerts I’ve attended in a while. He puts his heart and soul into every aspect of his work, and he appreciate his fans so much. The show was a concert I will remember for a long time to come.


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