Two similar moments defined the summer for Aberdonian singer Emeli Sandé, and each for very different reasons.
Glasgow Clyde Auditorium
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First, her striking reading of Abide With Me at the Olympic Games opening ceremony identified her as not only an A-list pop star in the UK, but one who was where she was on the basis of pure ability. Weeks later, however, her ubiquity at the closing ceremony transitioned her to the ranks of the overplayed and overexposed.
The reality is, she falls in between both representations of her talent. Undoubtedly, Sandé’s music has been slickly packaged as a product aimed at commercial radio airplay and sponsorship tie-ins, and this was reflected in a set which contained nothing in the way of spontaneity or surprises.
She’s a smooth operator, elegant and unfailingly polite, while not in the slightest bit revealing in person. We learned she was glad to be back in Scotland before Where I Sleep, that she was pleased to be playing in support of Nordoff-Robbins music therapy prior to My Kind of Love and that the Olympics was indeed her highlight of the year prior to Read All About It (Part III).
Yet there were moments of real heart. Her solo piano readings of the songs Clown and River, for example, or a heartfelt cover of I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free by her hero, Nina Simone, each added to the sense of an artist whose talent is mostly responsible for getting her this far.