Sam Smith: Thrill Of It All tour at Barclays Center [concert review]

Thrill Of It All, Sam Smith, Barclay's Center

Sam Smith mesmerized fans in New York as part of his Thrill Of It All tour.

Beginning on June 18, Smith took us on a thrill ride with him and invited singer-songwriter Cam as his main opening act. 

Cam waltzed on stage and performed her top hits while incorporating a few covers into her set. "Burning House" was that song that got everyone in the room out of their seats and singing along word for word as Cam followed their lead. Cam, who began writing for other artists found her own sound and released her debut album Untamed in 2015. She co-wrote "Palace" for the Thrill Of It All album and performed with him in London previously this year.

"[Smith] is one of the greatest singers of our generation," Cam had said before going on tour. "To be associated with his show -- that voice, those songs, that heart -- it's a tremendous compliment, and I can't wait to share my music with his audience every night."

The moment everyone was waiting for began after Sam Smith was lifted up to the stage and opened the show with one of his most personal songs. This is where he got real about his tough year following his breakup. "Burning" mentions how the separation led to his excessive smoking habit and broken heart.

It was just the beginning of a night full of surprises at Barclays Center on June 27. 

The props used in this minimalistic show proved how Smith is able to work the stage and deliver a memorable experience. A chair, his band and a large wedge at the back of the stage left Sam Smith's vocals at the center of everyone's attention. Sitting on a chair beside his guitarist at the beginning "Burning" created an ambiance for the low-key but energy-driven rest of the night.

"Lay Me Down" was as magnificent live in person as it was in the album. "Can I lay by your side? Next to you, youuu" yelled out the crowd in unison after Smith placed the microphone in front of a fan’s face for her to sing along. While creating a call and response interaction with the audience, he was deepening his relationship with them, allowing his fans to be a part of the experience. The lights flickered a beaming yellow as the beats got louder and followed the lines on the wedge down to the bottom.

Known as a “pretty nice guy” Smith is definitely that! He let his personality shine on stage with every “come on now,” “sing with me” and short interaction with the crowd. At the beginning of the show, he took a moment to wave to every section in Barclays Center saying “wow this place is huge! Welcome everyone to the Thrill Of It All tour” while mentioning that this was his first time playing at the historic center.

There was a moment where Sam Smith left the stage and his vocalists took over. With each defining voice, they joined together in unison to bring a moment of peace and serenity that you'd expect from a gospel choir. Right then and there, it felt right as the energy in the room lifted.

Credit: Evelin Mercedes

Once the beat for “Him” began, the crowd cheered incredibly loud, not anticipating what was about to come. At the end of the song, the big wedge at the back of the stage opened up, signaling a sense of freedom from the relationship that caused him so much agony.

After the music stopped lights reflected the colors of the pride flag, a symbol essential to the performance since it was about a specific "him" in this love ballad.

"To everybody listening: know that love is louder! Let me see your hands in the air."

The applause roared throughout Barclays Center. 

There was a long pause as the wedge kept opening and the music wined down. The stage lights followed the shape of the triangular stage in a stream of colors of the pride flag until they went pitch black and the wedge was wide open.

“That was very f***king dramatic, wasn’t it?” Smith jokingly asked.

The wedge closed for Sam Smith’s final song “Too Good At Goodbyes” and after he walked off the stage, he left the audience in pure awe. The lights still hadn’t turned on at this moment, leaving it all to the power of the chants that began with "Sam Smith, Sam Smith, Sam Smith".

“Palace,” “Stay With Me” and “Pray” were the final touches needed on a night that for many were date nights, friend reunions, family adventures, night outs and fan appreciations. His stage presence and ballads left a memorable sense of belonging and acceptance that one might expect after a Sam Smith concert.

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