Photos & review by Jennie Book
Seal took the stage at the historic Paramount Theater in Oakland on Tuesday June 6th in front of a seated hall filled with fans who’ve loved him for decades. But they didn’t stay seated for long – with charisma and soul Seal kicked the show into high gear right off the bat with “Crazy” and got the crowd on their feet joyfully singing and dancing.
Backed by a guitarist, two drummers, a backup singer, keyboardist, and the legendary Trevor Horn on bass, Seal’s vocals were beautiful and stronger than ever, and the whole band’s sound combined was flawless. A few of those touring bandmates have been with Seal for thirty years, including his keyboardist and his drummer Earl Harvin, who he mentioned co-writing his third excellent studio album “Human Being” with. When introducing the band, Seal saved Trevor Horn for last, sharing a heartfelt tribute to a man who’s been by his side for over three decades producing him, mentoring him, and being his friend.
In the middle of playing through a dream 13-song setlist from the albums Seal I and Seal II, Seal came out into the crowd in the middle of the majestic, high-ceilinged, arc-deco wonderhall that is the Paramount Theater in Oakland, and stood on a chair and sang “Killer” among his brothers and sisters. The crowd went crazy and it was a beautiful moment. What made it even more meaningful was when he stayed in the crowd for a second song – everyone’s well-known soaring favorite “Kiss From A Rose.” His fans swooned, the balcony sang down to him, and he filled the whole hall with love.
Other favorites from the evening included the transition from “Violet” to “Bring It On” – a banger that got people smiling and dancing, and “Deep Water,” which put a guitar in Seal’s hands for a song that started slowly and meaningfully and turned into a dancey singalong. The night ended with a two-song encore, and the whole crowd stayed until the very end, hoping for more, not wanting the night to be finished.
I first saw Seal live at the former Hammersmith Odeon in London in February 1992 and became a lifelong fan, and it was a total joy to see him a generation later on a different stage, still as vibrant as ever and spreading love through music around the world. He’s a consummate performer, in a classy class all his own, both a gentleman and a rock star, with a distinctive voice that is as unique and commanding as it was when I first picked up Adamski’s “Killer” 12” and said “Wait a minute, who’s this singer?”
Seal continues his tour through Portland and Seattle on June 10th and 12th, and then moves to Vancouver BC on June 14, and continues into Europe in July and September. Check out www.sealofficial.com for up to date information and for ways to get tickets to this unmissable show.