Emeli Sande @ First Direct Arena, 24/10

After a five-year break, Long Live the Angels was a long awaited album from Emeli Sandé, and, naturally, her accompanying UK Tour was certainly highly anticipated.

Emotional and spiritual, the new album chronicles her divorce, so it was inevitable her live performance would be even more so. While this raw emotion was evident at First Direct Arena for Tuesday night’s concert, Sandé performed with a surprising radiance and positivity. She fittingly opened up with a funked up version of ‘Selah’, the opener of the album. Although the ethereal quality of ‘Selah’ was almost abolished in this glittered-up concert version, things soon looked up. Sandé raced through more of her upbeat numbers, and I was reminded just how many hits she has had.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the night was when she moved to the piano. This is where Sandé holds her own. She was raw, evocative and powerful. This was the perfect setting for her soulful voice. Somehow, she managed to create intimacy in the First Direct Arena; the crowd gathered around the small platform with her and the piano, and it was as if you were watching one of your friends at the pub.

After everyone had dried their tears from ‘Read All About It Part III’, she moved back over to the main stage and injected an incredible power and zest into the final numbers, ‘Wonder’ and ‘Next to Me’, it was impossible to stay seated. There were some African elements such as bongo drums, perhaps hinting at her Zambian roots, lending a festival vibe to the end of her set. To sum up, Emeli Sandé’s performance was innovative, personal and a bloody good gig.


Sophie Baker