Sam Smith delivers opulent concert in DC

Gloria The Tour stopped in the nation’s capital

The hymn-like chords of “Stay With Me” rang out as Sam Smith emerged atop a giant golden statue of the love goddess Aphrodite, stretched in a sensual pose—ass out, of course—across the stage.

Such was the scene of golden opulence as Gloria The Tour stopped at Capital One Arena on Friday night (Aug 4th). The stage itself was also coated in gold, with Smith’s backup dancers also shimmering under the lights in the color. Though Smith sang the monster radio hit first, it was hardly phoned in. Rather, “Stay With Me” was colored with trills and a passion that wafted across the crowd.

An opulent stage for an opulent singer. Smith’s voice is rich, layered, and authentic. It is a voice that carries the listener on a journey. Smith’s voice can break your heart (“Too Good at Goodbyes”), fill you with longing, (“How Do You Sleep?”) or appeal to your knowing sassy side (“Not the Only One”).

Of course, the show was filled grandiose costumes as well. Smith received a thunderous ovation for returning to the stage in a glittery ball gown to start the “Beauty” section of the concert. The gown was, of course, golden. Aesthetic clearly matters.

Organization matters, too! The show was divided up into three sections around the Aphrodite motif — love, beauty, and sex.

During the second segment, Smith featured the backing singers and let them have a moment front and center. Smith and singer La’Donna delivered a stirring harmony on “Lay Me Down.” There are other surprises here, but it’s best not to spoil them.

It’s that third segment that has landed Smith in some hot water recently. During the sex segment, Smith dons a skimpy outfit and devil horns while delivering the show’s…climax… (pun not intended). Certainly, the press has worked to garner attention. But the critics miss the point: there’s no devil worshipping here. Just an image of playfulness and naughtiness stretched to extremes.

The light rig is also incredibly important to the production. A solid frame the same size of the rectangular stage holds bright LEDs that can literally shower the stage or drape it in a curtain of light. The rectangle can move in and out, adding a sense of intimacy or opening up the height of the stage design.

Sam Smith knows how to create a show that is authentic, theatrical, and yet at the same time does not detract from what first made everyone fall in love in the first place: that sterling voice. Rare is the pop star that can offer a real emotional journey. Sam Smith more than succeeds. Gloria, indeed.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.