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Sade captivates with sensuous show

sade_9_2010Sade and John Legend perform again tonight at 7:30 at Philips Arena. Tickets are still available. For information, visit www.ticketmaster.com or the venue box office.

From the moment Sade rose from beneath the stage, clad completely in black and her hair slicked into a severe ponytail, it was apparent that style would pervade the night.

As she marched across the stage in stilettos, beaming behind her scarlet lipstick and singing “Soldier of Love” in her buttery smooth voice, Sade immediately captivated – and for two hours she never let the audience out of her seductive grip.

This is the first tour in a decade for the Nigerian-born-British-bred singer, and with nearly a month of North American shows behind her, Sade and the band that shares her name have perfected a show bathed in sensuousness.

She quickly addressed the sold-out crowd, saying, “We’ve been baptized today in the storm, and now we have you, the sunshine,” before easing into “Your Love is King.”

The song, like many in Sade’s six-album repertoire, is a romantic ballad built for slow-dancing. While there wasn’t much room for that in the packed Philips Arena, many couples swayed together appreciatively instead, their heads instinctively nodding to the gentle rhythms powering her songs.

Sade’s presence is quietly striking, and she makes every movement, even her arm waves, somehow look elegant. She also is embracing her inner performer on this tour, frequently dancing around the stage with idiosyncratic, yet fluid, movements and occasionally having a playful interaction with a member of her excellent band.

Whether taking a jazzy stroll through “Kiss of Life” or addressing fears of alienation during “In Another Time,” Sade, 52, forged an emotional connection with the audience not just through her lyrics, but the striking technological aspects of the show.

Though the stage was usually clean and empty, giving her three main bandmates – Stuart Matthewman on guitar and saxophone, Andrew Hale on keyboards and Paul S. Denman on bass – and five additional top-notch musicians plenty of open space, it also served as a cinematic platform of sorts.

An elaborate film noir introduced “Smooth Operator” – the song’s bassline as intoxicating as it was when first heard 27 years ago – and the gorgeous black and white photography displayed on the massive video screen behind the stage served as a perfect backdrop to the sparse “Jezebel.”

That song was one of many to highlight Matthewman’s searing sax, and while no one can upstage Sade, his impressive runs frequently commandeered the spotlight.Sade-03232011

Several times during the show, a gauzy canopy lowered to shroud the stage, becoming another video screen. Though it was a novel approach when first used for “Bring Me Home,” with Sade and the band seen performing behind the sheer curtains, it was more of a distraction the second time around, for “Morning Bird.”

Still, it’s difficult to get too distracted by anything when Sade is singing, and on Tuesday, she sounded flawless whether romping through “Paradise,” which gave the show a punchy jolt, or sashaying flirtatiously in bare feet and a white gown, her loose hair hanging to her shoulders, for the gliding “The Sweetest Taboo.”

Throughout this tour, which wraps in September before heading back to Europe in November, Sade is booked for multiple nights in a handful of major cities (Atlanta included). In this currently squishy concert – and economical – environment, it’s a rarity when an artist sells out one arena show, never mind maintains a great enough audience appeal to do two.

But nothing about Sade has ever been typical.

Opening this North American leg of the tour is R&B prince John Legend, an appropriate pairing given Legend’s propensity for thoughtful musicianship.

He began a nearly one-hour set with his potent version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” sung mostly acapella with only his drummer striking the rim of his snare drum as background.

But that simplicity quickly burst into a full-fledged affair, as Legend, his seven-piece band and three backup singers dove into “Used to Love U.”

During the first few songs of his performance, Legend, looking debonair in a cream-colored suit, was overpowered by his drummer and three-piece brass section, his voice nearly impossible to discern. But he did quickly nullify the perception that he’s only a contemplative balladeer by displaying a hearty dose of showmanship in a set spanning the summery soulfulness of “P.D.A. (We Just Don’t Care)” to a full-throttle “Green Light.”

When he first slid behind his grand piano for the sweetly melodic “This Time,” though, Legend’s voice rang clear through the arena – it was just a shame that the still-arriving crowd was too busy chattering to fully appreciate his efforts.

66 comments Add your comment

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
10:44 am

Great Concert! This tour is a pairing of talent that is uncompromised and awe inspiring. The show is CHOCK FULL OF MUSICIANS and BEAUTIFUL people. The artistry was magical as always with Sade, but this was my first time seeing John Legend and I knew he was strong musically but he actually puts on a show. His backup singers are OMG!!!!!! Physiques can be seen from the cheap seats.

AWEFANTABOULOUS SHOW!

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
10:49 am

Actually on STUBHUB buying tickets for tonight. It’s worth seeing twice.

Jealous

July 13th, 2011
11:04 am

@Still Buzzed. You are so right. It’s worth seeing twice and even 3 times. Dynamic show!! Still reeling over it myself. She is unbelievable.

S Golden

July 13th, 2011
11:05 am

This was the best concert I have ever seen. If you have the opportunity to go, do so! It’s SO worth it

Melissa Ruggieri

July 13th, 2011
11:06 am

StillBuzzed: I’m pretty sure there are still tix available for tonight’s show at face value through Ticketmaster. Might save you a few bucks!

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
11:08 am

Thanx! I ende up there and got better seats for tonight..SO CRUNK!

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
11:10 am

And just to be fair…LADIES..JOHN LEGEND has been in the gym lately and he selects someone from the audience to come on stage so he can dance with him and his buffness..LOL

Worth floor level tickets

July 13th, 2011
11:10 am

Enjoyed the show big time. The above review is just how I felt about the show except the part where the reviewer mentioned the second time use of the screen in front of Sade. The John Legend part was true as well about his voice being drowned out. I mentioned this to my wife and said that Sade sounded just like a CD. Voice was as beautiful as she is.

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
11:11 am

he should be they

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
11:18 am

@ Worth…I believe she was singing Live…because she was a bit pitchy when she started after the last costume change, but her vocals cleared up quickly as she progressed into the song……I thought John Legend was pretty strong towards the end of his set, though.

wishing i could go back tonight...

July 13th, 2011
12:00 pm

I am trying to find out if she did an encore performance and if so what did she sing???? show was phenomenal btw :)

SAB

July 13th, 2011
12:08 pm

the entire show was worth every $$$$ fantastic..John Legend OMG, yes I agree, he has spent some time @ the gym & it SHOWS..!! but the lady of the evening was in true fabulous form!! Sassy, classy, elegant, & smooth SADE.. definitely worth waiting 10 yrs for this performance!! Props to the stage, videographer, production exe.. & OMG the sax player!! SADE ageless, effortless vocals, the whole production was GREAT !!! Would I see it again??? Heck yeah!! For those that missed this treat..my heart goes out to you!!!

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
12:08 pm

Encore= Cherish the Day

wishing i could go back tonight...

July 13th, 2011
12:14 pm

oh ok, was this when the little circles of confetti were falling? her set design was absolutely suberb! everything was so striking and beautiful, including her!

MR

July 13th, 2011
12:43 pm

John Legend – great. Sade’s band – awesome. Sade Adu – without peer. I’ve seen her twice before (first time at the Fox), but last night was A-MAZ-ING! She only gets better – and she looked like she really enjoyed herself and showed much love and appreciation to the crowd. My only hope is that it’s not another 10 years before she tours again. And props to the crowd – Sade fans are always the best. The whole experience was magic.

KM

July 13th, 2011
1:19 pm

Great performance by Sade ! Enjoyed it very much. At times the base was too much. Also Philips was very warm.Saw many fanning themselves trying to stay cool.

Soldier

July 13th, 2011
1:42 pm

Truly amazing night. I’ve always been a Sade fan but have never seen her perform live. I had heard she put on amazing live shows but I always felt that the mainly slow tempo songs she sings would equate to a slow, sleepy show. To the contrary. The night was class and style all the way. Although hard to compare with the fabulous sounds of the show, the visuals were also impressive and engaging. Song after song was perfection. The band….astounding! John Legend, also looked and sounded amazing. His backup singers were a pleasure to watch…and hear.

Melissa – spot on review…except for the math. We’ve been listening to that always fresh and intoxicating baseline of ‘Smooth Operator’ for a full 27 years, not 17!

maya

July 13th, 2011
1:58 pm

Last night was a beautiful dream from which I refuse to wake up. Perfection. :)

wishing i could go back tonight...

July 13th, 2011
2:03 pm

well said maya.

SadeFan

July 13th, 2011
2:11 pm

FolaSade must translate to Flawless. She was impeccable!! I’ve always been a huge fan, but have never seen her perform live. If I could, I’d go again tonight.

Ms. Ruggieri, thank you so much for the flattering article. Wish you were a true fan. ‘Smooth Operator’ came out in 1984 on cassette, so that would be 27 years ago.

Again,
Thank you!!

Again,

wildflwr

July 13th, 2011
2:40 pm

I agree with everyone, the concert was awesome!

Melissa Ruggieri

July 13th, 2011
2:43 pm

SadeFan: Ha, yes, I know it’s 27 years ago. Just a 1 a.m. typo! It’s been fixed. Thanks.

Still Buzzed

July 13th, 2011
2:54 pm

ITA @ KM-Phillips Arena STOP BEING STINGY WITH THE AIR!!!!! Turn the air on and tear the knob off!….LOL…..I know the lighting people are losing 20lbs a night in that heat.

@Wishing-Cherish came after faux white rose petal confetti..they did band intro’s, band bowed and stage faded to black…..then they returned for encore..LOVED IT and can’t wait until 7 pm

wishing i could go back tonight...

July 13th, 2011
3:02 pm

dang it!!! I knew we should have stayed! *curses rushing bf*

Pamela

July 13th, 2011
3:53 pm

I love Sade. She is a classy Woman. Her music is timeless! :)

Kem

July 13th, 2011
3:55 pm

Great show. Very seldom you see true artists in this type of venue. One of the best shows I have seen here in a very long time. When you have John Legend as an opening act, that it saying something. His set was very good, but Sade took it to a level that was just stupid. The encore was just plain sick.

On another note, I was told by a couple of Phillips Arena employees that Sade requests that the central air is set at a higher temp. She does not want to run the risk of having problems with her voice. They also mentioned that other high profile artists like Madonna have made that type of request as well. It just happened to be on the hottest night of the year.

Keith Williams

July 13th, 2011
3:57 pm

Fantastic show… I took my sister for her birtday. She sang over 20 songs and the were all EXCELLENT. The only problem was with Phillips Arena. It was brutally hot where we sat and very little air was circulating. This made it difficult to concentrate at times. Overall, one of the best shows in all my 51 years of living!!! Work it out SADE!!

bippy

July 13th, 2011
4:02 pm

Oh my goodness! I have not been to a concert of this caliber in years. I was impressed and seduced by Sade’s artistry and that of her band. I thought the blend of her music with the stage technology was captivating. Sade can give lessons to Whitney, Janet, Mariah, and Beyonce, etc. Sade was onstage for 2 hours, she did not get naked or dance like a stripper, she did not have scantily clad dancers, she did not use outlandish hair, makeup, outfits, or kooky props (Lady Gaga). She and the band did not use prerecorded tracks or autotune, they simply came out and performed. The audience was spellbound. It goes to show, if you have talent – you just need to come out and perform your best – the audience will appreciate it.

Carlton Riddick

July 13th, 2011
4:07 pm

That concert was amazing! She turned the place out!!!
It was worth the 10 year wait to see her perform again!

Follow Me On Twitter: @carltonriddick

AmazonRed

July 13th, 2011
4:10 pm

Sade was amazing. I actually wish I spent more money for her concert and gotten better seats. She truly is flawless. She hasn’t aged in 25 years and her voice is clear as a bell.

Those of us off the floor were indeed burning up, but that’s the only complaint I had. It was a wonderful crowd as well. The whole evening was magical. I’ve never done a concert at Philips but it was well done.

So glad she did the encore. We even got another wardrobe change out of it. She truly looked like she was having fun. If I had the money, I’d absolutely go and see her again.

In addition to the “bad math” the misspelling of “Atlanta” is also still there in the article. AJC kills me with this. Certainly “Altanta” would come up in spell check!

Bren

July 13th, 2011
4:21 pm

GREAT SHOW! This was my 3rd time seeing the great SADE@BAND. EXCELLANT…She is truely a LEGEND that will never go away! Sade is the GREATEST JAZZ/R/B SINGER!

steve

July 13th, 2011
4:37 pm

Great Concert!!! A night I will think about often in the coming years

Babycakes

July 13th, 2011
4:42 pm

Overall the concert was amazing. The band was awesome and Sade was magnificent. I also enjoyed John Legend. I was having a difficult time dealing with the heat. It was HOT! People were fanning and some men even removed their shirts. I was told by employees that the performers requested that the air be turned down. It made for a very uncomfortable venue. I’ve seen Prince in August, Jill Scott, Maxwell, and R. Kelly in June and was very comfortable. This was a first. Kind of ruined the experience.

ATL Guy

July 13th, 2011
4:52 pm

Ladies be careful of dancing on stage with John Legend. He’s been known to get – ahem – excited at times.

Sade Fan

July 13th, 2011
4:55 pm

I reiterate what everyone has said about the concert…FANTASTIC…from start to finish. The band, lighting, sound, stage set-up, etc. were on point. The band was PHENOMENAL. The sax and bass players killed it!!! However, it was very warm but I am sure this is because of the singers requests to turn the air down. Hopefully, not off. :-)
@Bippy….I am so there with you with the singers needed to take lessons. I would include Ciara in there as well. We were sitting in the same section. I hope she had a binder. She is talented but her behind the scenes people need to reimage her. Off track…However, it was a dream I wished would continue on and on. So grateful I could attend and had wonderful seats!!!

Sade Fan

July 13th, 2011
4:58 pm

Sade and Fantasia have something in common…they do not wear shoes for the entire performance. LOL

h

July 13th, 2011
5:14 pm

sade use to be a great performer until she lost that band,now she is limited to singing slow ballads.please sade get that band back together then maybe i’ll pay your concert prices

Mike

July 13th, 2011
5:18 pm

Fantastic show — we need to mention that one of her guitarists, Ryan Waters, is an Atlantan —

BeFrank

July 13th, 2011
5:26 pm

I am absolutely in love with Sade all over again after seeing her perform. She completely blew me and my wife away!

Kem

July 13th, 2011
5:31 pm

h,

Stewart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Henman have been the mainstays in Sade’s band from the beginning.

Remember Sweetback? The two brothers singing background and percussionist have been with her awhile as well.

What other band members are you referring to?

GODAWGZ

July 13th, 2011
5:48 pm

Sade is the greatest female vocalist ever. Her voice is simply beyond compare. I would love to hear her do some songs with Thievery Corporation, that would be off the charts. Not that the current band isn’t great though. It is great to know that there are still people out there who appreciate a master in the art of music.

Msthang

July 13th, 2011
5:52 pm

Hey y’all – it was SADE herself who requested that Philips Arena keep the AC at a minimum to protect her vocal cords. I know someone in administration there and the employees were just as uncomfortable and upset. I was disappointed that Sade or her PR team did not consider the fans. It’s July in Atlanta. They should have put a disclaimer on the ticket about the air. Not Philips – Sade. Someone could get really sick!!

LongtimeSadefan

July 13th, 2011
6:03 pm

I saw the show last too. Sade and her band put on an amazing show. Easily my favorite concert this year. The musical artistry, nuanced lyrics, soulful delivered vocals and the intensely striking visuals were mesmerizing. Sade really knows how to interpret a song and captivate her audience. Plus she was beautiful as well as classy. Well worth every penny and the ten year wait.

Juliankay

July 13th, 2011
6:27 pm

Last night’s show was everything that’s been said previously and more. My wife and I and friends drove from Montgomery Al and it was worth every mile and time. Plus it was the best birthday present I or Sade could give my wife. My wife said that the atmosphere and the band made her feel like she was in Europe. And all she needed was the red dress that Sade did the encore in to put the icing on the cake, Kudos to everything except the temp in Phillips. But they were told to keep it from getting to cool by Sade because it would affect her voice. which sounded GREAT!!!!!!

Kemet Anew

July 13th, 2011
9:36 pm

My wife and i felt privileged to be present to see Sade perform on her opening night in the ATL.. It was the best concert i’ve ever seen! We’ll remember it for many years to come. If Sade is in your city and you want REAL entertainment,good music and a built in film festival, go see her! Otherwise,you may have to wait another ten years. Thank you for a wonderful evening Sade!

Wendell

July 13th, 2011
9:40 pm

That concert was FANTASTIC!!! Sade was amazing, she and her band rock & captivated Phillips Arena, I agree with everybody else, if I had the money I would go back again tonight!! Music was timeless & classic, she sanged all the past big hits and a few new ones. Elegant show and visuals, some of these musicians of today shoukd take note!! John Legend was awesome too, great band & the backup singers were physical GODDESES!! I will be back when she comes back!!!!

Boday

July 14th, 2011
1:01 am

I have loved Sade for many years and I must say I attended the Lover’s Live (Rock) concert (2001), although it was good it couldn’t touch this 2011 tour. She was better than the best!!!! Her voice, look, style, and so on etc… Sade needs to go down in history as a ‘Real Icon’ and yes not like some of these others who just sell sex.

Martin

July 14th, 2011
1:32 am

One of the best concerts I have ever attended. Sade and the fellas were amazing!!

Lynn

July 14th, 2011
3:42 am

Perfection ! @52 she shreds the “competition” to pieces…she has no competition…in a CLASS by herself. Tracey Ellis, Diana Ross’ daughter was rocking it near the first row !

Chris

July 14th, 2011
8:06 am

Absolutely stunning show!! The Band is amazing, drummer was awesome, Stewart killed thesax too….Must see show.