With a remarkable debut record and four Grammys under his belt, 23-year-old Sam Smith has made his way into the hearts of international fans young and old. His heartbreaking ballads serenaded the sold-out crowd at Verizon Theatre on Monday.
They came prepared with deafening screams and roses that they threw onstage throughout the performance.
Doe-eyed and grinning from ear to ear, Smith took in the full theater, matching the crowd's excitement, during opening number "Life Support." In less than a year he has gone from selling out the much-smaller House of Blues to Verizon Theatre with one leap, proving the power and stamina of his premiere album, In the Lonely Hour.
Known for his pure vocal strength, Smith breezed through taxing falsetto notes without flinching. Quick-footed riffs fleshed out the chorus of "Leave Your Lover," a slow, pleading number built with his signature somber mood. Although most of his tracks come from a dark, depressing place, he joked that he is actually a happy guy, explaining that a majority of the record was written about one particular man that broke his heart.
With only three years of touring and performing to show for it, Smith is a natural on stage. His warm, inviting demeanor and humble nature match the vulnerability in his music, which gave the crowd a more intimate perspective than just a solid set list. Unafraid to color outside the lines, he drifted from his track listings a few times with mashups of various covers that showcased his broad musical taste.
Starting with a smooth, upbeat rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry on Their Own," complete with flawless rolling notes, he merged the jazzy number with another peppy classic, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Later in the set, he peppered in verses of other covers including CeCe Peniston's sassy single, "Finally," and Elvis Presley's "Fools Rush In," a sweet-and-low love song made for Smith's velvety vocals and charming persona.
Not one to take the easier vocal arrangement, Smith hit every tiptoeing note with force, sounding just as good, or better, than the studio version. He shared that another lesser-known track, "I've Told You Now," was the only song he has written on his own, saying it was inspired by a confessionary drunken phone call to a crush that he deeply regretted the next day. His relentless pitch and honey-soaked vocals brought sincerity to the vulnerable song, as if it was a fresh wound instead of years in the making.
Yes, he performed his heavy-sluggers, "Latch," "I'm Not the Only One" and "Stay With Me," with just as much grace and clarity, but it was the underdog tracks that revealed the softer, emotional side that fans have come to know and love.