Sam Smith

Sam Smith•Jessie Reyez•August 19, 2023•Delta Center

Reviewed and Photographed by Alisha Gregson

Photo Credit: Alisha Gregson

On Saturday, August 19, the Delta Center welcomed Sam Smith to Salt Lake City. As I drove downtown in the pouring rain, I was grateful to be attending an indoor concert that evening. The arena was filled with fans excited to attend the much-anticipated show. 

There has been a lot of talk about Sam Smith’s current Gloria Tour. After a devilishly provocative performance of “Unholy” at the Grammys in February, Smith has become a target to many who accuse them of being vulgar, satanic and over-sexualized. With the recent backlash in mind, I was curious about what kind of show I was in for. I admit I have no experience with devil worship, but if that took place on stage Saturday night as Smith’s critics claim, there was far more joy, love, and glitter than I would have expected at any sort of Satanic ritual. The night’s energy was actually quite positive, with repeated messages of love and acceptance. As for those claims about the show’s sexual nature, I won’t even try to argue that. Things got pretty wild for a minute. 

Jessie Reyes

Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez opened the night with an exciting 40-minute set. Reyez, who was a guest on Smith’s latest album “Gloria,” was an excellent choice for a supporting act. She had a very strong energy and a beautiful voice. Where she really shined was in the way she interacted with the crowd. She spent a lot of time making connections with her fans and talking to the audience. Her vulnerability and genuine emotions helped them connect with her music. A couple of songs included on her set were “Gatekeeper” and “Only One.”  She was also funny and liked joking around. She told the audience her performance was “our first date.” 

Although she continued to compare the performance to a first date, Reyez also wanted to play matchmaker. She asked the crowd, “Who here is as single a dollar bill?” Then after instructing all single members of the audience to raise their hands, she asked to have lights on the crowd and said, “Keep your hands high, Look around, don’t say I never did nothing for you, Salt Lake.” 

After having a lot of fun on stage, and giving the crown an excellent performance, she ended her set with “Figures.” When she told the crowd it would be her last song she was met with an enthusiastic “No” and boos from the crowd. It was clear they were not ready to see her leave. She joked back, “Don’t lie, you’re here to see Sam Smith!” Luckily, her fans wouldn’t have to wait too long to get a little bit more from Reyez. 

Sam Smith

The house lights dimmed and all eyes were on the stage anticipating Sam Smiths arrival. A backup dancer entered, slowly walked to the middle, and then pulled the covers off to reveal a giant gold statue of Aphrodite lying across the stage. Moments later, Smith appeared atop the golden goddess of love wearing a golden corset with a top hat in hand. After taking a moment to appreciate the cheers from the enthusiastic crowd, Smith began singing “Stay With Me.” From the set design to the unique outfits, there was a lot to take in from the very beginning. The concert was already proving to be a theatrical one, but from the very first note, Sam Smith’s impressive vocals reminded me why everyone was there. 

Sam Smith is famous for their ballads, and fans were delighted to hear many of those songs in the first half of the set. The crowd sang along to hits like “I’m Not The Only One,” “Like I Can,” and “Too Good at Goodbyes.” Smith’s performance was perfect, and I noticed many in the crowd getting emotional. Throughout the night I observed Smith taking time to make special connections with individuals in the crowd. I could tell there was a bond and mutual love between Smith and the dedicated fans. 

Smith shared the stage with many very talented backup dancers and vocalists. They all did an excellent job sharing the spotlight. For a couple of songs, a familiar face returned. Jessie Reyez joined Smith and together they sang “Perfect,” and “Gimme.” It was fun to watch them perform together, and they seemed to have great chemistry. Smith also gave his backup singers a chance to take over, and they all received big reactions of approval from the crowd. 

The show was split into three acts with different themes: “Love,” “Beauty,” and “Sex.” After hearing the ballads from the “Love” portion of the set, the songs from “Beauty” got the crowd on their feet dancing. Judging by the audience’s reaction, “I’m Not Here to Make Friends,” was an obvious fan favorite. The cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” was also a lot of fun, and was an exciting performance to watch.

Smith’s wardrobe consistently changed throughout the night, and you never knew what to expect next. The variety of outfits ranged from a fancy gold and sequin ball gown to a simple pair of jeans and a jacket. Near the end of the night, Smith appeared in a thong, fishnet stockings, thigh-high boots, and nipple tassels. Up until that point, the show was fairly tame. With the new outfit change, and background dancers wearing similar attire, Smith brought a completely different energy to the stage while singing a cover of Madonna’s “Human Nature.” 

The crowd went wild as Smith was about to begin the final song of the night. Standing at the center of the stage, they smiled at the crowd and said, “Welcome to my gay cabaret!” 

Photo Credit: Alisha Gregson

The energy in the venue had reached a peak when they began playing “Unholy.” After disappearing for a few seconds, Smith reemerged standing on top of the Aphrodite statue with a sparkly pitchfork and devil horns. There were fans in the crowd who had been wearing illuminated devil horns the entire night, anticipating this very moment. Flames shot up around the stage as Smith and the backup dancers danced around provocatively. It felt like the energy in the arena had slowly been increasing all night and leading up to this grand finale.

The audience loved every minute of it. After the incredible performance, Smith thanked their fans before leaving the stage. The backup dancers remained for a few more minutes and continued their performance while “Vulgar” played over the speakers. It was overall a very exciting night. Sam Smith is an outstanding performer. With an angelic voice and devil horns, they put on a one-of-a-kind show. 

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