If I had to describe Emeli Sandé’s gig at New Theatre Oxford in one word, it would be joyful. Joy simply emanated from her and her bandmates. You’d certainly be hard-pressed to find yourself at a more uplifting gig.
After a rousing warm up courtesy of Ben Monteith, Emeli sings us songs from her third album ‘Real Life’ as well as her greatest hits.
She and her wonderful band pack in the tracks swiftly one after the other, the upbeat momentum rarely slowing down.
Her hit ‘Heaven’ is arguably good enough to be the finale song, so I was surprised when it was her second number of the night. Demonstrating the high calibre of the evening, the show continued to ascend from there.
The atmosphere in the room was infectious. Some people were dancing in their seats with such exited exuberance that my friend and I couldn’t look at each other without giggling, such were the high spirits in the auditorium.
Emeli is rarely still while singing – as if her colossal voice is escaping with force out of her body. She’s giving us her all.
Introducing a new single called ‘Honest’, she says the song is “a really important one” to her both as a writer and now performing the single, as she feels that it is “a lesson” to herself. “Often I forget to be present; and I forget the importance of now” she tells us.
‘Honest’ helps her to remember that “the real gift of life is now, and that’s all we have – and who we choose to spend it with is so important…”
She comes across as heartfelt and sincere. She’s softly spoken – a contrast to the undeniable power of her singing voice.
At just 32 years old, Emeli emits the vibe of a wise old soul, yet is full of fun and vibrance. With a degree in neuroscience, not only is her voice sublime, but her kindness and intelligence shines through as she performs for us.
While introducing the track ‘Human’ she tells us more about her background. Her father is Zambian and her mother from Cumbria. She grew up in Scotland and now lives in London. “I’ve kind of always grown up being a mix of everything; and never really knowing ‘who am I? Which box can I fit in to? As a child I found it really hard to cope with that.”
She goes on to explain that not knowing how to define herself was always “a bit of an issue”. But as she got older she began to realise the gift of have so many different perspectives of the world to dip into.
She says Human tries to underline the similarities and experiences we have as human beings and hopes we learn to empathise with one another. “For some reason our differences seem to be the thing that makes the headlines,” she calls out, “and sadly we’re not seeing the true strength and beauty of humanity.”
Having moved to London from Glasgow, as a gifted songwriter Emile initially penned songs for other artists before finding her own fame. Writing ‘Clown’ changed all that and made her want to sing her own songs, she tells an avid crowd.
She added that everyone has to play the clown, that people are going to laugh at you, because they don’t understand you.
“There’s nothing more powerful than saying what you really mean,” she tells us, before adding what a privilege it is to be singing the song to us, when surely it’s the other way around.
“Thank you for making me feel less alone in this world. I hope my music can be there for you,” she says before playing the final song ‘You Are Not Alone’.
The party atmosphere and positivity continued until the very last note. Emeli proved to us without a doubt that her success is very much deserved. We could after all do with a bit more joy in our lives.