3/25/14 – The Sinclair

I‘ve been to far too many concerts. In fact, due to the number of shows I attend, a large number of them are barely remembered and only a select few truly stand out over the years. Sam Smith’s debut headlining Boston show at the Sinclair was one of those special moments, an intimate glimpse at an artist who is clearly headed towards bigger stages, awards, and throngs of screaming fans.

First of all, this guy has the voice of an angel. If you haven’t heard, take a listen to any of his tracks, and you’ll notice that his operatic pipes are plated with gold, producing a thick, full-bodied voice you would never expect from the very average looking 21-year-old. Wearing a black velour jacket and dark skinny jeans, he had a mellow stage presence, and despite the deep sadness in so many of his songs, he couldn’t stop smiling at the crowd’s fervor. After a booming hip-hop-like intro that led into the languid “Nirvana,” the charming Mr. Smith said his first “Hello” to the crazed audience. In his endearing British accent, he explained that this was his first visit to Cambridge (the American version) and was pleased to find that it is home to Wagamama, just like his native Cambridge across the pond.

Even though the audience jumped into the palm of his hand the instant he walked on stage, his inherent adorableness only drew them closer. He was not only extremely gracious and thankful for the sold-out crowd, but also as genuine as could be, even admitting that he was “shitting his pants” over his upcoming SNL performance. After getting the crowd grooving to his Disclosure/Nile Rodgers collaboration “Together,” he warned us that it was time to get depressing. His upcoming album, In The Lonely Hour, is, as he describes, all about unrequited love, the only form that he has experienced in his life. Luckily for us, when Sam Smith gets sad, he produces gorgeous music.

Most of the night was dedicated to new material off his unreleased record, with highlights including a heart-breaking, straightforward ballad “Leave Your Lover,” the uplifting, anthemic “Like I Can,” (not on the below setlist), and the brand new gospel-influenced encore “Stay With Me.” The sonic climax of the show had to be the hard-rocking cover of Arctic Monkey’s “Do You Wanna Know,” which essentially transformed into a new song with Smith’s romantic vocals attached to it. That track may have been his loudest, but he couldn’t have gotten a bigger reaction than from his two earliest tunes, “Lay Me Down” and “Latch.”

These are a few things I know. One: This is the last time Sam Smith will play anywhere where audience members won’t know his music. Two: Next time he comes to Boston, he’ll play at a venue at least the size of House of Blues. Three: This was the last and only time I will ever be within 20 feet of Sam Smith.

Sam Smith Setlist

The Angel of Cambridge: Sam Smith
  • Witnessing an act on the verge of stardom
  • That voice
  • A sneak peek at his upcoming album
  • He could've played for another hour and nobody would be upset
  • The fact that Sam Smith hasn't been loved back before. Shameful.
9.9Overall Score

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