For those looking for a sensitive end to the second night of Lollapalooza (Aug. 1), Sam Smith delivered a heartfelt set across the festival grounds from Metallica’s fury. In addition to performing all of In the Lonely Hour‘s best tracks, Sam made sure there was a bit of variety in his hour and fifteen minutes onstage before the beautiful Chicago skyline.
Midway through the set, Smith and his backing band shook things up and injected a medley of soulful covers into the mix. “This is for you, Amy,” he declared, and the band jumped into Winehouse’s Back to Black dazzler “Tears Dry On Their Own.” But that wasn’t all. They quickly segued into a bit of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” with two of Sam’s backing singers taking lead on Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s respective parts in the Motown standard. Finally, the mega mix ended with a dash of disco — Chic’s 1978 hit “Le Freak.”
And Sam looked good doing it!
Later on in the set, Smith also covered a little bit of the Elvis Presley slow dance classic, “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.” An artist pressed into playing big headline gigs with only an album to his name, Smith’s jukebox tendencies kept the set fresh, balancing out the sleepier Lonely Hour deep cuts that will need to fill out his stage time until he has more festival-friendly jams under his belt.
But of course, it was more than covers. The set swelled into majestic peaks when Smith busted out “Like I Can” and “Money on My Mind,” the latter of which he described as being inspired by some studio collaborators who were only in it for the money. Speaking of which, Sam was in a talkative mood. He gave numerous shout-outs to the city of Chicago (“I know I shouldn’t say this but this has been one of the most amazing festivals I’ve ever played in my life”) and even one to his sister Mabel, who was celebrating her birthday.
Watch Sam perform a little bit of “Stay With Me”:
“This record was a breakthrough for me because it was the first time I was truly honest in my music,” he confessed. In that spirit, he described how “I’ve Told You Now” was about getting drunk in London and confessing his love to a man he fancied and how “Make It To Me” was a love letter to his future soul mate, “whoever it may be.”
Getting towards the end of the set, there were of course his high profile collaborations — “Latch” with Disclosure and “La La La” with Naughty Boy — both of which he performed soulful renditions of, in the style of his own album, sans the collaborators. And finally, he closed out the heartwarming set with — what else — “Stay With Me.”
Throughout the set, Sam’s vocals were on point as expected, complimented time and time again by his backing singers, whom he’s been touring with for two years now. Smith, clearly a well-oiled touring machine at this point, will continue the heartstring-tugging on his North American tour, which runs across the western part of the continent for the next two-and-a-half weeks.