Stephen Sanchez•Stephen Day•October 26, 2023•The Union
Reviewed and Photographed by Josilyn Wakkuri Lybbert
The line of Stephen Sanchez fans that wrapped around the block from The Union Event Center started at nine o’clock in the morning on October 26th. It was one of the first really chilly days of the fall season, but that made no difference to those eager to see Stephen. People made themselves at home on the sidewalks of Salt Lake City where fans could be seen wrapped up in blankets to stay warm, applying makeup, having dinner, and of course, blasting the man of the hour’s songs in preparation for the night!
Sanchez had just brought his first tour to Salt Lake City in March of this year. Since then, he’d released his first full-length album, “Angel Face.” The album has a consistent 1950s/1960s vibe while still fitting right in in 2023. Many people arrived decked out in vintage-style outfits to match the feel of the album’s music and the show!
I have been to The Union a handful of times, and I have never seen it so packed full of people! The balcony was filled, and the floor was crowded nearly to the back where entrance of the venue is! It was very clearly sold out!
When Stephen Sanchez’s opener, Stephen Day, was announced for this tour, I was thrilled! I had started listening to both Stephens around the same time, so it was awesome to get to catch them both at the same show!
Stephen, joined by Jimi Green and Scooter Spicer, opened his set with one of my personal favorites, “On Top of The World.” It’s a feel-good song with a fun, funky backbeat that is hard not to dance along to! The crowd loved Stephen and his music immediately! The groovy, “All The Space,” followed the first song and fans were really into it and danced and cheered! Stephen was so interactive with the audience, which, of course, they loved and is always fun to see! He has such a strong, smooth voice that’s just easy to listen to, and that didn’t change live! He was so good!
During the song, “If You Were The Rain,” Stephen said, “Sway with me, Salt Lake City!” And the whole crowd, packed in like sardines, followed his direction as they swayed and stepped side to side in sync! Stephen’s newest release, “Kinda Cowgirl,” was played next, and it was so fun to hear it live after playing it consistently over the last few weeks! The crowd loved it, too!
Their admiration for Stephen only grew throughout his set, and during, “For Life,” his performance was causing squeals of excitement throughout the audience! After a few more songs like, “Dancing in the Street,” (another one of my personal favorites), and, ending with a cover of, “Dancing in the Moonlight,” that led into Stephen’s, “Hey Lady,” his set came to a close! Again, he was phenomenal and so loved by the crowd!
Soon, the lights dropped and what sounded like a vintage radio station announcement kicked off, “The Troubadour,” Stephen Sanchez’s headlining set. High pitched screams rang out continuously in anticipation of Stephen setting foot on stage and erupted even more so when he did! Stephen walked on stage, dressed in all black, with one of his band members, Anson, and took everything thing in for a moment before a single spotlight coming from the back of the stage created a bright glow around him. He started off with a beautiful ballad, “Something About Her.” The screams died down and were replaced with the fans’ best singing voices as they marveled at the performance taking place in front of them. But their vocal excitement quickly returned when, “Evangeline,” started. There was a mixture of screaming and yell-singing along to this popular hit of Stephen’s!
By this point his whole band, “The Mooncrests,” donning suits and bowties, had joined him on stage, which of course really enhanced the more upbeat, “Evangeline.” Stephen sure knows how to dance and he did many moves in such a way that especially made the girls in the audience go wild! It was like watching Elvis in his prime, and the crowd at The Union reacted similarly to Stephen as those Elvis fans did back in the day!
“I Need You Most of All,” came next and the energy and enthusiasm on stage and in the crowd remained the same! It was during that song that I began to notice little moments that would make Stephen smile or laugh whether it was reactions from the crowd as a whole or an interaction with a thrilled fan, it was obvious that he was happy to be there and having a good time!
Things just kept rolling at the same upbeat pace with, “Only Girl!” Stephen and the band kept rocking on stage, and the fans were dancing, jumping, and singing their hearts out – so much so that it got really warm in the venue really quickly! Everyone was giving it their all!
After, “Only Girl,” Stephen said, “Hello, Salt Lake, how are you?” and was met with lots of cheers! He then gave the story of, “The Troubadour,” which is his 1964 persona for the album, “Angel Face,” and current tour. The songs throughout the show were meant to tell the story of The Troubadour who was caught in a love triangle which included a mafia member, his wife, Evangeline, and The Troubadour, Stephen Sanchez.
With more context behind the theme of the show, Stephen and the band proceeded with the mellow song, “No One Knows.” During the song, the members of the crowd lit up their flashlights that created a glow amongst them and matched the feel of the song perfectly! The next song, “Doesn’t Do Me Any Good,” which Stephen described as one of his, “more seductive songs,” received high praise from the fans as he showcased his talent especially well while belting through the song. They also loved it when he fell to his knees while singing that one! As it drew to a close, someone near me said, “That’s what I want Heaven to sound like when I enter.” I could see why!
I’ve been to many concerts and witnessed reactions from many different types of crowds, but I can honestly say that I’ve never witnessed a crowd quite like the one at this show. They went hard and gave it their all from screaming to singing, to shouting, “I love you!” over and over again. You would’ve thought we were in an even bigger venue because, even wearing ear plugs, they were one of the loudest groups of fans I’ve ever heard! The stunning, slow “Be More,” was a perfect example of that. From the second Stephen started singing, the crowd’s singing almost seemed like a roar because it was so loud and powerful! At one point he hit a really high note which received some really high pitched screams from fans in applause!
The next three songs, a Roy Orbison cover of, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Shake,” and, “High,” really kicked things up a notch! It was a fun segment of the show filled with energy, flashing lights, and the band absolutely jamming!
Stephen explained that the next song, “The Death of The Troubadour,” fell in line with the love triangle story mentioned earlier and ended with him falling to the ground as if the mafia had killed him because of The Troubadour’s love affair with Evangeline. When he did so, “Oh no!” could be heard echoing around the crowd!
Luckily, that wasn’t the end of the show! Stephen continued with his sweet song, “Send My Heart With a Kiss,” followed by a cover of, “Unchained Melody” made popular by the Righteous Brothers. Fans were particularly excited for, “The Pool,“ one of Stephen’s older songs. Again, they sang loudly, and were thrilled at what was being played for them! Before the last song of the night he sang a King of Leon’s song, “Use Somebody,“ and an unreleased song of his, “Howlin’ at Wolves.“
Before the final song, Stephen expressed his gratitude to the fans and thanked everyone for their support and coming to the show. He said that Salt Lake City was the largest headlining show of the tour, which was pretty cool!
The last song of the night was his well-renowned hit, “Until I Found You,” which has hundreds of millions of streams, so, of course once again, the crowd gave everything they had into singing along to that one! The song had ended and the band joined Stephen at the front of the stage where Stephen asked the crowd to sing the chorus one more time. They, of course, happily complied and did so beautifully! The fans cheered for nearly another five minutes after the last note was sung, and Stephen and the band stood on stage taking it all in, tossing setlists in the form of paper airplanes, drumsticks, and guitar picks into the crowd! What a feeling that must be! It was an awesome thing to witness, especially since I have been listening to Stephen Sanchez since he only had one song out!
There is no doubt that Salt Lake City absolutely adores Stephen Sanchez and Stephen Day! From starting the night out with some feel-good music with one, Stephen, to finishing the night out by taking a trip back in time with another, it made for a fantastic night for music lovers in Salt Lake City!