Photos and Review by Jennie Book
Sam Smith brought their Gloria Tour to Oakland Arena on August 27, 2023 and transformed the venue into a three-act journey of musical enchantment.
The stage was set with a draped-and-covered structure reaching end to end, mysterious because of its size and shape. As Sam’s entrance music played, a woman appeared and uncovered the huge set piece, revealing it to be a lounging naked figure reminiscent of classical sculptures. A symbol of love and allure, it became a dynamic canvas for Smith’s presence, where throughout the 20-song setlist they sang on top of it, dancers slid down it, and it became a sort of beautiful Frank Gehry-looking jungle gym.
Contrasting the seductive sculpture, Smith structured the opening of the show with poignant ballads, including “Stay With Me” and “I’m Not The Only One.” These chronologically-placed hits acted as stepping stones, acknowledging past heartbreak and leading to a more celebratory present.
The backing vocalists shined brightly throughout the concert, moving in unison side by side at standing microphones. A standout moment occurred when LaDonna Young joined Smith for a seamless duet of “Lay Me Down,” showcasing their harmonic synergy, after Smith introduced her as one of the most important people in their lives.
Smith’s transition from soulful ballads to club anthems showcased their artistic versatility. Seeing the audience unite in a chorus of “You say I’m crazy / ‘cause you don’t think I know what you’ve done,” made Smith light up with happiness, just as it did when they commanded the audience to “Jump! Jump!” as club anthem “Latch” cranked.
This “Gloria” tour stop at Oakland Arena was a big hit with Smith’s adoring fans, and Smith looked like they were having a ball at the ball. For more tour news and information, check out www.samsmithworld.com.