Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Midweek Musical Muse XV: Sade in Columbus

Sunday morning. The thermometer is predicted to reach the high nineties. Another hot one today! Tickets have been purchased a week before. A four star hotel has been booked and an elegant French bistro has been identified for dinner before the show. An overnight bag has been loaded. Let the four and a half hour drive to Columbus, Ohio begin. Sade is in town for their first tour in more than 10 years. At this rate, the next time they may come around again I may be too old to rock and roll or too deaf that I can’t hear them anymore.

Since I first heard Smooth Operator and Hang on to Your Love and other memorable songs from Sade’s first album, Diamond Life (1984) I have been a serious lover of Sade’s music. Their repertoire of catchy jazzy rhythms, classic R&B riffs, great saxophone and guitar licks, masterful percussions and emotional ballads, all weaved together by that smoky voice of Sade Adu, has made them one of my preferred bands to listen to when I want to sit back and reflect or feel like experimenting in the kitchen.

The opening act was Grammy winner John Legend. I have to admit I have never heard of John Legend before, but I enjoyed his show and his music dovetailed well with that of Sade. During his show I thought the bass drum was too loud and it reminded me too much of those cars driving past you and you hear nothing but doof-doof-doof as it approach and long after it passes you. But in general he sang a good collection of songs and was at his best when it was just him and his piano. But the bass drum issue was absent from the Sade show.

Then, after a long intermission when the stage was totally cleared, the concert hall lights dimmed, the crowd started to cheer, and with the first strands of Soldier of Love filling the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, Sade Adu emerged in her trademark black turtleneck blouse and ponytail through a central stairway onto the pitch black stage, highlighted from beneath by a single stream of white light. The huge crowd responded overwhelmingly in great anticipation of what was to be experienced in the next two hours for their lives.

A red wave of sound and light.

The performance jumped around through the six albums she has produced, from well-known radio hits like (Smooth Operator, Is It A Crime?, and The Sweetest Taboo) to lesser-heard ballads and R&B gems. The set constantly change, from re-arranging of the equipment, to the disappearing of the equipment. Enhanced by videos in the background or drapes falling from the top of the stage, even singing from behind a see-through veil that surrounds the whole stage. The whole show was very professionally thought out and directly by Sophie Muller. Unlike most modern day female artists that try to impress their audience with fancy dance moves, crotch-clutching antics and constant barely-dressed costume changes to hide their poor singing and tinny repertoire, Sade Adu was all VOICE, passion and emotion, backed by a superb band and they only wanted to do as she herself exclaimed at the beginning of the show: “Make up for all the lost years.” The one-in-a-million smoky voice and the Sade Group succeeded brilliantly.

This video of By Your Side that I recorded on M’s little red Panasonic DMZ-ZS7 digital camera (it thinks it is a video camera more than a digital camera), is not an attempt to piracy, and if it appears that way then I apologize to the Sade Group. It is more an attempt to entice people to go and see a breathtaking show.  

This was one of the best shows I have seen in all my years of going to live performances. It ranks up there with the Rolling Stones and U2. Not better, but up there. And I am not saying that lightly. Visually engaging, the sound was excellent, the lighting superb and all together a great atmosphere and great performance.

After the show M and I walked back to our hotel just across the Olentangy River from the concert center and appreciated the night views of a full moon and the lights from Ohio State university buildings reflecting on the river.

The highlight of the evening was Jezebel with Stuart Matthewman on the saxophone. Although this video was done in 2002, Sunday night’s performance was nearly identical in a very black and white setting, Sade Adu sitting on the edge of the stage and the sound was just as good, although I think Matthewman was slightly more edgy, more forceful during the solo part.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fantastic!