Emeli Sandé, O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
After spending many years in the background, writing the lyrics for artists as diverse as Tinie Tempah and Cheryl Cole, tonight, on the final date of her UK tour, Emeli Sandé is basking in the limelight.
Clearly commercially astute, she switched her moniker from Adele to Emeli (her middle name) because, in the music world, Adele was already taken. Her lyrics also show she knows what will work in the industry. She takes broad themes - the stuff of Disney ballads and soul divas of the 60s - like climbing mountains, floating down rivers and making relationships work, then adds idiosyncratic details that flash through your mind and stick in your gut; a solitary suitcase, a set of keys in a door, sleeping back to back.
It's rare that someone so gifted at song-writing (she co-wrote Chipmunk's third single "Diamond Rings" which placed at number 10 in the UK singles chart and Professor Green's number one hit "Read All About It") is also a great performer, but she is. The Brit Award winner's shock of bright blonde hair bobs up and down as she thrusts across the stage, flashing her Frida Kahlo tattoo and sharing her brand of big, powerful soul music.
Trance-hop hit "Heaven", where Sandé sounds a bit like Beyonce and a bit like Massive Attack, gets one of the best reactions from the crowd along with soon-to-be-released single "Wonder", written just three weeks ago. It is super-catchy, summery pop with a rap chorus including the slightly dodgy line "This life is contagious, so tell your neighbours, reach out and pass it on."
"My Kind of Love", her next single, written while she was training to be a physician and realised that "Being in hospital, the people that come to visit are the ones that really care for you", combines a heavy bass beat with gospel choir harmonies and floating above it is Sandé's voice, so powerful and emotional that several members of the crowd feel overcome with the need to spontaneously start snogging.
Introducing "Clown", a vehicle for Sandé's amazing vocals, with the accompaniment stripped back to just a few piano chords, she explains the meaning: "It's about when you are trying to do something different and people will laugh at you, but I can promise you, you'll have the last laugh". It sounds as though she's speaking from experience.
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