“Thank you for your patience. I know you waited a long time for new music.”
After a four-year gap between her highly successful debut album Our Version of Events and her follow up Long Live the Angels, Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé is finally back on the road, singing her famous hits to packed out arenas.
As the stage goes dark, a red light suddenly shines brightly on the silhouette of Sandé, which is met with huge applause from the audience. Opening with the first single from her second album, Hurts, the 30-year-old musician instantly shows the crowd what is in store for them tonight; big hits backed by a big band in a big ol’ arena.
Backed up by an 11-piece band dressed all in white, Sandé’s hits come into their own live on stage, sounding bigger, fuller and even more dramatic with brass, percussion and a trio of backing singers by her side. Despite a lot of sound coming from her huge band, songs Lonely, Give Me Something and Every Little Piece, all less well known from her latest album, are crystal clear. Often it is difficult to hear the lyrics in venues the size of this and with a band as big as this, but Sandé has mastered the art of articulation, pronouncing every word so clearly, leaving the crowd hanging on to everything that leaves her mouth.
A highlight of the evening comes in the form of a Janis Joplin cover of Piece of My Heart. The soul classic suits Sandé’s voice to a T and gives her the opportunity to really have fun, dancing with her band and vibing off each and every one of them.
As if Sandé hasn’t showed off her vocal abilities enough tonight, a special six-track performance on the B stage at the back of the standing area is nothing more than magical. Sitting down at the grand piano, Sandé explains: “It was important for me to put this part of the show in as I started at the piano, but it is overwhelming to do this in an arena.” Opening with Clown, Sandé proves just why she deserves all the success that comes her way. As her impeccable vocals reverberate around the huge arena, it’s hard not to feel choked up at the emotional performance. Songs River, Suitcase, Beneath Your Beautiful, Read All About Part III and new song Starlight are just the same, with her heartfelt lyrics sung so beautifully and so well controlled. This short and gentle interlude at the piano really is a very touching moment of the night.
Back on the main stage, there is a drastic contrast in mood as Sandé starts to close the night. Her latest single Highs and Lows is full of energy, not just on stage by herself and her band, who are dancing along to fun choreographed moves, but also in the audience, where everyone has finally loosened up and is ready to party.
Arguably her biggest hit to date, Next To Me appears to close the night on a high. As the room is lit up with thousands of audience member’s smiles, Leeds Arena turns into a big ol’ party, as everyone is full of spirits celebrating a truly magical night. Thanking Leeds profusely for coming tonight, Sandé walks off stage to rapturous applaud.
As people begin to mill out of the arena, strangely the house lights don’t turn back on, signally the upcoming return of Sandé on stage. Unusually, she introduces what really is her final track Little Bit Longer, her upcoming single. The song is great, but it seems odd to come back on for a song that hasn’t even been released yet.
Despite the slightly strange end to the night, it doesn’t detract from what a phenomenal show Sandé put on in Leeds. Other than her obviously stunning voice, what really stands out tonight is her genuine passion and love for music, which shone through at every possible occasion.