Seeing Sade Perform lIve Is a Concert Experience of a Lifetime
I love music concerts. There is nothing that compares to seeing your favorite singer performing live. One of the best performers I've ever seen is Sade.
If you have never heard the music of Sade, well, you should. The band's lead vocalist is Sade Adu, born Helen Folasade Adu. She is a Nigerian-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer of the British, Grammy Award-winning English group Sade. I truly became a fan back in 2002 when I purchased their then, just-released "Lover's Live" album. The album was a fixture in my stereo, as has every other album of theirs. Listening to Sade is like looking through a prism—it's always slightly a new view. Each song delivers an authentic message of life, sometimes easy and sometimes hard; sexy without being salacious. Serene without being weak.
Since releasing "Lover's Live" Sade has been on a 10 year hiatus. The band hasn't toured or produced a new album since "Soldier of Love" which was released in December 2009. In these "gap" years I told myself that if I ever had the opportunity to see Sade perform in concert, I would definitely make sure I was in the audience. So when they announced their "Soldier of Love" tour, making a stop in San Jose on August 25, 2011, I didn't take time contemplating ticket prices or concert venues. All I did was make sure I had my tickets.
It's hard to say what I loved most about the concert. Sade was amazing, both in voice and energy. The band was spot on. Even the sound was amazing considering we were at the HP Pavilion (essentially a huge glass arena that is home to our local hockey team). In fact, at times I could close my eyes and imagine I was listening to Sade in my livingroom-- only with the volume up really loud! It was evident that every detail had been well thought out. Each stage set was visually engaging yet not overwhelming. They utilized video projection, lighting, mulit-level stage configurations and fabric draping to create a depth of experience greater than the sum of its parts.
The reporter of the Oakland Tribune writes in his review of the concert, "Not many vocalists can get away with providing so little physical activity at the arena level. Then again, few can claim a voice equal to Sade's. And arguably no other artist comes close in terms of creating and sustaining such a gloriously mellow and warm vibe onstage."
What I didn't fully realize prior to going to the concert is that what makes Sade so outstanding is not just the talent of Sade Adu, but rather the collective talent of the entire group, in which each band member contributes in equal measure. Between lyrics there is an instrumentation that is first-rate in contemporary ensembles.
It's not just Sade, it's the band, too!
Additionally, what you come away with after seeing Sade perform is that there is a genuine caring and a strong mutual respect among the each of the performers. Note I didn't say musicians, but rather performers. This distinction is made clear when Sade herself, steps away from the mic. She shares the spotlight with each of her fellow bandmates. And well, I think that is just so classy.
In fact at one point during the concert, Sade is singing along with two of her band-mates. As she is doing a slight dancing motion backwards, she didn't realize there was a slight rise in the staging. She lost her balance and stumbled backwards. Had her band-mates not instinctively reached out to grab her, she may have fallen. Without missing a beat or losing her composure, she laughed at her gaffe. She looked at each of them with a smile as if saying, "Thanks guys, I couldn't do this without you."
Andrew and I were walking back to our car, I said how I came to the concert a fan of Sade's music, but I left a fan of the Band itself. They lived up to my preconceived expectations and then exceeded them.
You know the concert lie, right? The lie that all performers tell an audience of one show in a 50-city tour— that you have been the best audience, the band will never forget you, they will never forget San Jose. I knew the next night Sade would be saying the same things to the audience in Oakland. But somehow I couldn't help but believe that she meant it when she said it to us.
I will close with the a message written in the concert program:
"It's theorized that each sound we make will reverberate infinitely throughout the universe. As you are the portal to our songs your hearts will be the first to recognize what resonates from ours. You'll understand that we're not crazy or lazy... ten years it took us to get back here. You'll understand that we strive to be brilliant and struggle to be good, that we are real because we are imperfect, but you will always be our purpose. We remain ever grateful for your constancy and your applause which will resound in our hearts as long as we live."—Sade