Gauging from the screams and shout-outs that greeted Sam Smith’s performance in West Hollywood last night (Sept. 11), fans are fervently counting down the days until the release of his sophomore album.
As the svelte Smith took center stage at legendary venue the Troubadour, the audience — asked to check their phones at the door — immediately shifted into sing-along mode with opening song “Lay Me Down” from his Grammy-winning 2014 debut album In the Lonely Hour. “It’s so good to see your faces,” said a smiling Smith before segueing into another hit from the album, “I’m Not the Only One.”
“Thank you so much for coming out tonight; I missed you so f—ing much,” Smith later told the packed house that included Quincy Jones, Capitol Music Group chairman/CEO Steve Barnett and former BET president of programming Stephen Hill. While explaining his break between albums, the singer/songwriter also made a promise. “It was important for me to go away for 18 months, so thank you for giving me that time,” Smith told the crowd. “I promise you the music has benefited from that.”
Smith then spent the next 50 minutes alternating between selections from his forthcoming album and additional fan faves — all played in a stripped-back acoustic style by his band. That backdrop, coupled with the Troubadour’s intimate vibe, underscored the singer’s still impeccable, soulful tenor. As a guest noted at one point, “He owns the room.”
New offerings on the evening’s set list included heartbreak ballad “Midnight Train,” the upbeat “One Last Song,” slow song “Burn It” (“One of the most personal that I’ve ever written in my life,” said Smith) and the inspirational “Pray,” which the singer called “one of my personal favorites.” Smith rounded out the album sampling with his latest single, “Too Good at Goodbyes” — which sparked another passionate, word-for-word audience sing-along.
Reaching back into his catalog, Smith stirred up memories with such songs as “Like I Can,” “Latch” (the Disclosure song featuring his guest vocals) and the seminal “Stay With Me.” Smith also serenaded the room with a cover of Alicia Keys’ 2009 R&B hit “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart.”
Before launching into the Keys song, Smith noted that he “listened to many types of music” while in the studio recording. “This song,” Smith added, “really got me through the making of this record.”