Sam Smith Gilds Entire Xcel Energy Center

Photo by Ben Allen

Last updated on August 27th, 2023 at 09:47 am

Sam Smith is a glorious, golden mythological being; Theia embodied. Last night, they descended on the Xcel Energy Center like Venus would have visited ancient Rome. Well, if there were an acropolis that shared space with a hockey team anyway.

Smith has the voice of an angel, a really warm and welcoming stage presence, and a tremendous flair for the dramatic.

I’ve only ever seen them in guest appearances during other artists’ sets, mainly with Disclosure. The voice may be familiar, but this didn’t seem like the same singer. This version evolved, bloomed, and felt more confident and commanding. 

And Smith brought Jessie Reyez along to open, and she delivered some feisty energy of her own. 

Photo by Ben Allen

Reyez engaged in lots of banter with the crowd, at one point leading a call and repeat of the crowd chanting, “F***” to which she’d reply, “My ex!” In another interlude, she asked for a show of hands from all the single people, then the people in relationships, then finally for those into polyamory. 

“That’s great, I’m glad that works for you, but it doesn’t work for me.” Suddenly the chant about the ex-lover made a lot of sense. 

Photo by Ben Allen

Even with a limited set of attendees, the opening slot at the Xcel was a giant leap from her previous local appearances at Amsterdam Hall and the Fine Line. Even so, she commanded the place as if it belonged to her. 

The venue wasn’t sold out, but the crowd filled in quite a bit by the time the lights dimmed for Smith. Most of the stage’s real estate was occupied by a large sculpture of a body laying on its side, draped in a sizable sheet. A woman clad in gold appeared and dramatically pulled the sheet away, letting go as it retracted to the back of the stage.

I hadn’t previewed anything about the show, so I didn’t know what we were in for. I knew it looked like a body, but I assumed it would be more marble than metallic. I was wrong; it was very much gold with a pronounced, round tush. 

Smith appeared just above the waistline as his band played the opening chords of “Stay With Me.” The stadium’s sound was excellent, as Smith’s voice rang out but never overpowered, and the entire composition was audible. The sound’s warmth matched the golden glow of the lights and that giant golden tush. 

Photo by Ben Allen

They stayed on top of the sculpture for the duration of the song, then descended the knee stairs to raucous applause, showing off a fancy outfit that sparkled from head to toe. 

One of my favorite parts of the show was how Smith would meet the eyes of people in the crowd and sing to just one person at a time for a few moments. Their love gestures were reciprocated by bursts of energy from the crowd, and it was easy to get sucked in. 

Photo by Ben Allen

Unfortunately, my access to the show was limited to photographing the first three songs. I’m usually the consummate professional about leaving after that third song, but in this case, it took all of my willpower not to run away from the security folks and into the crowd. 

Would I have paid actual money for the experience? Certainly. Am I regretting not doing so for the foreseeable future? Also yes. If you’re near a future stop on the Gloria tour, do yourself a favor and snag a ticket. 

Written by Ben Allen

I tell the story of the energy transfer between people who play music and that music's listeners. I photograph and write about festivals and concerts, which I've attended for three decades. I'm also the tall guy you probably got stuck behind at a show. First concert: Nirvana at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Dec 1993. Yes, I am old. Tall and old.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Tia corine's net worth image of tia corine performing

Tia Corine’s Net Worth: How She Got Started, Her Personal Life, and More

ray charles

How Did Ray Charles Die? The Details Behind Ray Charles’ Death