Emeli Sandé At The Bootleg Theater

  • Emeli Sandé
    Photo: The Recording Academy

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By Lindsay Gabler
Los Angeles

Los Angeles traffic always seems to get in the way of me and my love of music by attempting to make me late for shows. As I traveled from West L.A. to downtown, I was concerned I wouldn't make the set time of my latest musical crush, R&B/soul singer Emeli Sandé. As I approached the venue, I unknowingly drove right past it because of its unassuming location. I made a quick U-turn to follow the Bootleg Theater parking signs and pulled into a school parking lot, which is transformed at night to accommodate concertgoers.

The theater was nothing like what I expected. I almost didn't believe I was about to watch Sandé in such an intimate venue. While the invite said Sandé would be performing at precisely 8 p.m., in true soul diva fashion she started a few minutes late. But the crowd didn't seem to mind as she walked onstage to a more than warm reaction from a packed audience that was about to witness an amazing vocalist.

As Sandé took the stage and addressed the crowd with her charming Scottish accent, the cellist began to play as the percussionist led the groove into "Heaven," the first single from her debut album, Our Version Of Events (out June 5 in the United States). As soon as she began to sing, I could tell the entire room was immediately mesmerized by the clarity and power of her voice. After a loud cheer from the crowd, Sandé introduced "Next To Me" by explaining that she felt there are a lot of songs that tend to bash men, but this song was for all the good men.  Sandé followed with a moving rendition of Coldplay's "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall," telling us that it was her favorite tune of 2011, and that frontman Chris Martin enjoyed her cover so much that he asked her to open for the GRAMMY-winning group on a string of U.S. tour dates. Her rendition almost moved me to tears because of the emotion conveyed through her crystal-clear vocals and the echoing cello.

As Sandé led us into her next song, "Clown," we learned that the song was about taking risks even when no one believes in you. I felt as if she was letting us in on her own personal journey and fight to pursue her dreams as a singer. The following song, "Daddy," addressed the issue of addiction and obsessive behavior. In the middle of the song, I glanced over and noticed a photographer enter the venue, presumably arriving for one of the following acts later that night. I saw him stop dead in his tracks and stare in a trance as Sandé gracefully sang over a guitar accompaniment. About a minute later, he slowly picked up his camera and started taking pictures as if he knew this was a moment in time that he must capture because he was witnessing something great. 

Next up was one of my personal favorites, "Breaking The Law." The song speaks of the love you have for someone and how you would literally break any law or rule for them. With each lyric, she pulled the audience closer as the song slowly built. As she led into her last song, "My Kind Of Love," Sandé explained that before pursuing singing professionally, she worked in a hospital and studied neurology. She was inspired by the love of her patients and attributes becoming a better writer to her interaction with them.

The song came to a close as the crowd hollered and we all felt we witnessed someone who was about to be revealed to the world in a big way. I grabbed my parking stub from my pocket as I exited to the chatter of attendees praising Sandé.

After making a big splash in the UK, Sandé is most certainly ready to take the United States by storm.

Set List
"Heaven"
"Next To Me"
"Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" (Coldplay cover)
"Clown"
"Daddy"
"Breaking The Law"
"My Kind Of Love"

To catch Emeli Sandé in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

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