Sam Smith @ Bell Centre – 19th June 2018

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Sam Smith Montreal Bell Centre

Single millennials of the world unite! Married and unattached humans of any other age are welcome as well. Yes, the owner of contemporary pop music’s greatest melodies was here on Tuesday night and Sam Smith backed his busload of hits into the Bell Center.

Right away, the room is dominated by a huge circle that acted as a mood ring for the songs, changing colors and pulsing along to the beat. In front, a multifaceted structure that would generally rest as a triangle and move subtly as the songs went on.  At one point it had become an M shape and I thought did they just spell out SAM and I missed it? But no, it’s just an interesting backdrop set for lights and mood.

The real focal point was the man on stage.

Sam begins his show with “Burning” in the thinker pose, he’s seated on a chair that’s rising from the catwalk. Of course, he can’t sit forever and he’s quickly up dancing and giving every corner of the venue attention. He stalks the stage strutting like a model, usually with his stellar backing singers in formations that have got to be choreographed, but the fun they are having shines through in their performances naturally.

In his crowd work, Sam comes off very sincere, humble and appreciative of the success his fans have given him. Like he’s just a guy living the best version of his favorite dream and it’s got nothing to do with how special his literal and figurative voices are. He indicates that this particular show means a lot to him because; his last Montreal show was “the best show I’ve ever done in my life” and he gave that credit to this audience. He doesn’t seem to worry he can’t top it because he has a lot of faith in them.

And speaking of “Faith” really it feels I’m watching a fresh 1988 George Michael in concert, both men with tremendous vocal command and an audience joyous to be in the palm of their hand. It’s very hard not to get swept up in it.

Some songs did land a little flat. “Restart” for instance was performed energetically and was met with a muted response, maybe people were tired from dancing but, honestly that was one of the nights more upbeat and danceable songs. It only ever took a quick change of scenery to get the younger fans off their phones and back into the songs. So the choice to finish songs quickly, without extended solos or unnecessary deviance from a radio edit was probably smart. I actually thought they ended one song too quickly like they skipped that extra repeat of a chorus to keep the audience engaged and moving.

It felt like it all went by way too fast, but like the old saying goes, always leave them wanting more. As the red confetti fell during the thundering encore of “Stay With Me” we all wanted more. “You’ve done it – this is better than last time,” He says right before launching into “Pray”. And as at the start he sits down in the thinker pose as the stage swallows him. What’s he thinking about? Surely it’s about the next time he’s in Montreal where he can count on a great show. Don’t miss him next time.

Review – Mike Rogers

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