Gig review: Emeli Sande at O2 Academy Leeds

Emeli Sande at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Emeli Sande at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

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EMELI SANDE fans have had to bide their time for her much-anticipated second album but, as she proved at Leeds’ O2 Academy, it has certainly been worth the wait.

Showcasing the critically-acclaimed Long Live The Angels, which was finally released last November four years after her brilliant No1 debut album Our Version Of Events, the BRIT Awards winner was in vintage form here.

Mixing that new material with many of her classic hits, the Scottish pop-soul singer/songwriter so inspired by the likes of Nina Simone and Tracey Chapman, produced a captivating performance.

Opening with the tranquil Selah, Sande quickly moved onto her crowd-pleasing debut single Heaven which segwayed nicely into an upbeat Wonder.

Images of African plains then beamed out on the big screen to the more delicate Tenderly, one of the songs on her second album that is rooted in her Zambian background.

Free was another audience favourite and a soaring My Kind Of Love was equally well received but an epic Hurts, initiated with a scene-setting drum solo, took things to another level demonstrating Sande’s full vocal range superbly.

Emeli Sande at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Emeli Sande at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

There was no let-up as Breathing Under Water follows but the stripped-down

Beneath Your Beautiful in a duet with her guitarist was a classic especially as that lead directly to Sande heading to the piano for the first time during the evening for a spine-tingling Clown.

Somebody is another powerful song, one of the best from Long Live The Angels, while her recent single Highs and Lows had everyone on their feet especially when the backing singers threw in a dash of Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.

The set finished with a rousing Next To Me before Sande returned for her encore, dedicating her signature tune Read All About It to the people who had tragically died during the London terror attack earlier that day.

With its perfectly-suited sentiments and a typically stellar performance, just like she produced in the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, it was a fitting end to a glorious display from one of British music’s finest products.

She’s back in Leeds on a first-ever arena tour in October but those who got a taste of what’s to come in this smaller, more intimate venue were not disappointed.

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