Sam Smith returned to the Spectrum Center on Friday, July 6 for the 42nd show of his “The Thrill of It All” World Tour, his second time in Charlotte. I always forget how massive the Spectrum Center is. When Smith asked the audience to turn on the flashlights of their phones for his favorite portion of the set, I could see why it’s the singers favorite. With the help of the phones, the stadium transformed into a pseudo-starry night.
The English artist entered the stage seated on a chair reminiscent of his “In the Lonely Hour,” opening the set with “Burning.” This is the second time I’ve seen Sam Smith perform, having caught his 2015 “In The Lonely Hour” Tour. Three years later, I am still completely in awe of his raw talent.
It is absolutely no surprise that Sam’s music can be depressing and it’s perfect for a fresh breakup. This is something Sam himself stated at the top of the show, noting that at the time in which “The Thrill of It All” was written he “realized that my music’s very depressing. And I was very, very nervous… ‘cause I don’t want you to leave this room tonight feeling sad and like sh-t. So we have tried our very best in the show to make sure you all leave this arena tonight feeling happy and feeling good.” I can completely attest that the entire team succeeded.
Although the nature of the songs are somber and can remind you of a past relationship, the tour itself was entirely different. Usually-depressive songs have a soulful sway to them when Sam sings them live. The wonderful thing about Sam was his nature to not take the set seriously. After a dramatic rendition of “Writing’s on the Wall” Sam joked “that was f—king dramatic” following a cello (Harry Robinson) and keys (Rubin James) interlude.
Looking at the stage, everyone looked excited to be there. Every performer was entertaining to watch, so even if you did not have the best view of Sam you were still entertained and saw performers who were having a total blast. The band sang and danced with one another during “Restart,” clearly needing no one else to have fun.
I usually make a distinction in my reviews of performer versus artist. Like the whole square vs. rectangle thing, not all artists are performers and the same vice versa. Sam Smith is one of the artists that you do not need to have a first-row seat to in order to feel the power of his performance. You will move, sway, sing-along and be transported with the performance of the night. Even from far away, you will have a great view of the absolutely beautiful camera shots taken, each with a beautifully seamless transition.
The setlist included both of Sam’s albums with a great balance of 2014 “In The Lonely Hour” hits and the newest 2017 “The Thrill of It All” bops. No matter how much the songs had changed to be upbeat and a (no pun intended) thrill, the singer hit every mark.
Sam left the same way he entered, returning to his “In The Lonely Hour” position with the crowd roaring with thanks for the memorable night.