Ballroom / Live Music / Midtown / Rachel

Sam Smith, Hammerstein Ballroom

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I distinctly remember when I started paying attention to Sam Smith. I was out for a pre-Cinco de Mayo dinner with my sister and her friend and they were passing phones back and forth to replay their favorite lyrics from “Stay with Me.” I couldn’t really get into the song because of the noisy outdoor seating, I’d never knowingly heard it before and thought it’d be more fun to ignore their freak out. So I sat in silence…

*crunches chip*

*sips margarita*

Two weeks later: I was at work, in need of some fresh tunes and ready for Spotify to bless me. I clicked through a few artists before landing on Sam’s page and decided to give it a go. Instantly, his Nirvana EP grabbed me. The title track, now living among my all-time favorites, was outstandingly perfect. Every time I listened, I felt like my insides were yelling at me for more–how could a song be so chill and earth-shattering at the same time? True to RCS fashion, I was late to the fandom party and missed out on tickets for TWO upcoming shows in NYC. Luckily, he had an upcoming tour a few months down the road so I snatched a few tix and offered praise and thanks to the heavens.

From that moment on, I became a Sam Smith missionary. I forced friends and family to listen/download/stream any track they could find (from his EP or recently released album, In the Lonely Hour). Cut to four months later (that’s roughly two years in stan time) and my Sam Smith obsession = full-blown.

It’s concert day and I’m literally running down 34th street to Hammerstein Ballroom to meet two friends. As I run, I’m texting, “If I’m not on the floor—I’ll die.” I’ve seen a few shows at this legendary venue and I’m usually content with heading upstairs and grabbing a seat in the balcony.  But. Not. Tonight.  When we were finally inside, it took me fifteen minutes to figure out which side to stand on, how far away I needed to be to collect quality photos and video, and what side I thought he’d interact with the most.  Before the show even started, I was crying.  Sam’s rise to fame was one to note: two years ago, he appeared on Disclosure’s “Latch,” released his debut single in early 2013, and was soon after featured on Naughty Boy’s hit record, “La La La.”  In 2014, Smith released, “Stay with Me,” his signature and what solidified his singer-songwriter fame.  If that weren’t enough, I think this performance marked his fourth in NYC since January. Thinking about all of this wrecked me.

Tonight, Sam was playing to a sold out crew of men and women who stood in anticipation of the emotionally heavy sounds of angelic poetry, soon to come. Opening with “Nirvana,” the song of my dreams and nightmares—Sam’s sweet eyes pierced the crowd with kindness and his suit was clearly tailored by fairies. As he effortlessly began to work his way through the majority of his discography, from “Like I Can,” to his cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” Sam’s voice carried the audience to a state of sultry euphoria.  His voice is otherworldly and his band? One of the most dynamic I’ve seen.  Even his backgrounds singers held it down! We were treated to SS album-version classics, but we also got to experience some in their remixed for stage forms.  “La La La” was slowed down and crunked, granting me with just enough of a beat to hit my beloved dougie. #bless

After a stunning set and an encore that featured two of his most popular hits, Sam sauntered off of the stage, smiling and thanking us for a spectacular night—and that’s when I cried, again.  I knew that what I was experiencing was special and I knew that the show would blow my mind…but what I wasn’t expecting was a life-changing event. Less than a month later, I bought tickets to see him again at Madison Square Garden early next year.

Sam Smith’s talent is undeniable and his rise to stardom resembles that of fellow UK-born, chart-topping acts like: Adele, Ed Sheeran and One D.  But this angelic prince has a unique quality that somehow sets him apart from the rest.  He makes the stage his home and as long as he’s singing, I plan on being there every step of the way. And I’m not sure whether or not I actually thanked Mark and Mariah for annoying me all of those months ago and for introducing to me to one of my favorite singers of all time. So, M&M, consider this my public issuance of gratitude. I’m eternally indebted.

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