Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Emeli Sande at Royal Albert Hall



Some days are ordinary grey days, but yesterday was an extraordinary day.
There was a glorious blue sky and those small fluffy white clouds as I headed to South Kensington via bus and tube and for a late lunch at the V & A café, where the pianist played under the ornate Victorian rooftops. 

2012 has been a big year for Sande, not only did she get married, her debut album Our Version of Events was the top selling album and went triple platinum in the UK.
She has a glowing warm stage presence with her large smile and her sincerity. I have seen her perform at several of Glasgow's top venues - the Oran Mor, King Tuts and the Old Fruitmarket. 

It feels very strange to be in such an iconic venue.
I first entered the hall via its Stage Door entrance for my Pass, where we waited. Professor Green came in shortly after!  I shook his hand and said how much I enjoyed his big hit song with Emeli - Read All About It. Green had a beautiful girl with him who looked  like a model. I took in the images on the walls – in particular one memorable image of Frank Sinatra as he waved to his enthralled audience taken from the stage by photographer David Redfern, I was in awe!. I thought how hard it is now to get those kind of images with all the restrictions imposed on photographers these days – only the first three songs, no moving about etc. etc.  I wished to savour every moment knowing these were moments I would never forget.    

I will never forget ascending the narrow steps that entered the arena the theatre’s red and gold lights shimmered above us, where there were the shadow outlines of people on the tiered circle galleries as spotlights hovered and I feel I have now entered a realm of fantasy, folklore, mystique and hidden memories.

Another Emily, from New York – an Emily King played as the support.


When Emeli appeared in the shadows at the top of the dark steps we know she is a star in the making. She savoured the experience, as she paused to take in the atmosphere and those moments as she arrived on the iconic stage.  The halls doomed arena offer perfect acoustics for voices to reverberate and bounce into the air. 

Sande began with her distinctive song Daddy, which was followed by Tiger and Where I Sleep. Then the backing singers and band got a chance to shine with the refrain I Left My Heart in Pluto.
In the middle of her set Emeli sat at the piano centre stage and said, 'This is where I know myself and where I am raw.’ She started with the emotional Clown and she said sometimes we all need to show the Clown in us.  Next she sang her well loved song River. She said she’d had emotional responses to this song and that one young girl who’d never been to a music concert before had said to her that Emeli was 'her river of music.'  Then she sang a song by one of her main musical influences, Nina Simone, ‘I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free’ which drew positive audience reactions.


‘We should all speak up and use our voices.’ she said before she sang Read All About It and the audience were delighted when Professor Green came on stage to sing this number one hit song with her.  Then Emeli returned to the stage in a red dress and with her song Wonder, a song full of light, she got the audience on their feet
‘Anything can be achieved if you have love.’ She spoke of the support of her parents. Then she sang her hit song Heaven that has that danceable drum beat and soaring vocal.  To our delight Labrinth then appeared to sing their chart song Underneath Your Beautiful.

For an encore Emeli sang her touching Maybe, followed by her rousing and popular Next To Me.

Emeli makes the dream her own, but she also takes us with her. This was one of my best days too.
Having followed Emeli's career for five years since 2007, it is both strange and wonderful to see her now on the Big Stage and called the Voice of 2012. I remember the intimacy of her Oran Mor gig and how moving her voice was there.

THE SET:  Daddy, Tiger, This is Where I Sleep, Breaking the Law, ( two new songs)  My Kind of Love, Abide With Me, Clown, River, Nina Simone’s How It feels to be Free, Read all About It, Wonder, Mountains, Heaven, Maybe, Next to Me,
Proceeds to the Princes Trust. The concert was being filmed for a DVD, photography was restricted, but the colours and vibe were awesome.