BY MADIE SCOTT
Sam Smith is quickly rising to the top of the charts (and everyone’s hearts) with his strikingly beautiful voice and shy smile, and his show at The Vic Theater April 22 was the perfect embodiment of this.
Featured on Disclosure’s song “Latch” and Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” Sam Smith has worked hard to get his name out there this past year, and it’s clearly paid off. Already, he’s moved from being a featured singer to releasing his own music — which has so far been incredibly well received by its listeners.
While tremendously relevant already, both in the U.K. and the U.S., his first album, In the Lonely Hour, hasn’t even come out yet. It’s set to release in the next month or two, however, and is highly anticipated by his devout fans.
That being said, Smith’s performance at The Vic (3145 N. Sheffield Ave.), with a capacity of 1,400 people, was probably the last time he will be seen in such a small venue. Standing in general admission with just a few tall heads between me and the rising star, I was struck by the delicacy of the situation and how incredibly lucky I was to witness this intimate performance at the takeoff of his career.
Though scheduled to come on at 8 p.m., the lights didn’t even go dark until 8:45 p.m. No one in the audience appeared to mind, though, as everyone just seemed delighted and eager to hear him perform.
Smith opened with his song “Nirvana,” which he performed for the BRITs Critics’ Choice Awards at Abbey Road Studio 3. He seemed genuinely humbled by the screaming crowd and smiled bashfully each and every time the audience sang at him.
As he finished up his song, I heard a seemingly intoxicated man next to me say to his girlfriend exactly what I had been thinking: “This is gonna go down in history as the time we saw Sam Smith. THE Sam Smith. He’s gonna be bigger than…” and then the sounds of the cheering audience drowned him out.
I easily finished his sentence in my head, though. Bigger than… Justin Beiber. Sara Bareilles. John Legend? Bob Dylan? The Beatles? Only time will tell. But at the rate he’s going and with the talent he possesses, Smith is undeniably destined for greatness.
As he moved on to each song, he paused to talk with the audience and tell a little story about what each song meant to him or what drove him to write it.
With the ability to make speaking into his mic to a thousand people feel like sitting around a bonfire chatting about love with a few friends, he said, “I’m never gonna be in this situation again where I don’t have an album out,” he said, “So I want to play music that you don’t know just to see your reactions.”
And once again I was hit with the notion of what a remarkable experience it was to be hearing his music so freely and so new — unplugged, unedited and experimental.
Smith then explained that his next song was about him being in love with someone who was married, and proceeded to sing an unreleased song, “Leave Your Lover.”
His show as a whole had minimal dancing and movement (which is fine, because his voice does more than enough). But after a few more of his beautiful ballads, he got the whole audience dancing a step touch move in-sync with each other to another unreleased song (possibly titled “Restart?”).
His smile of gratitude after each song was downright adorable and felt 100 percent genuine.
“It’s gonna get depressing now,” he added, and then sang “Not in That Way,” a song he said he wrote in his loneliest hour.
When he performed “Money On My Mind,” one of his more well-known and upbeat songs, someone in the crowd handed him a dollar, and without a beat he made a funny stripper comment and pocketed it — exhibiting his candid humor and his humanity in general. While his heavenly voice suggests he’s a god, I guess he is still just a man.
Finally, he got to his song “Lay Me Down,” which he performed on Saturday Night Live. Hearing it live was even more chillingly beautiful and heart wrenching.
After singing Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” he left the stage. Of course he wasn’t finished, though, and the audience cheered until he came back on.
He returned with his acoustic version of Disclosure’s “Latch” and finally ended with his most popular song at the moment, “Stay With Me.”
Smith was finished by 9:45 p.m., but while the show only lasted an hour, his effortless falsetto and overall vocal control must have made it seem like a blissful eternity.
Those that follow Smith on Twitter were in for a pleasant surprise after the concert, as he tweeted for people to stick around so he could personally apologize to everyone for rescheduling his previously set concert date for Chicago.
He stayed true to his word and eventually came out the stage door by the street where about 75 people anxiously waited for him and got to meet him one-on-one. While he didn’t get the chance to greet everyone, he stayed as long as he could, chatting with his fans and proving that he was grounded, thankful and, above all, normal. We, as fans, are eager to watch his growing career and hope he stays that way.
Smith’s performance at The Vic was the start of what I anticipate to be a tremendous music career.