If you ask anyone, recording a live performance for the Austin City Limits television series is quite the accomplishment. English-born Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé not only made her first visit to Austin, Texas yesterday, but she also brought the house down at her live ACL taping last Sunday night.
Sandé is up-and-coming here in the States. She has been a much-sought-after songwriter after writing for artists such as Alicia Keys and Rihanna. Her debut album Our Version Of Events was the UK’s biggest-selling debut album of 2012. Sandé was also one of the top winners at the 2013 Brit Awards, walking away with the Album of the Year prize. Her track “Next To Me” has gone Platinum here in the U.S, and that’s just the start to her international stardom.
As soon as Sandé, rocking some glossy Dr. Martens, stepped onto the stage, the crowd was hers. She kicked off the taping with “Daddy,” a brooding track that had Sandé performing at her piano at first but as soon as she took the mic in her hand and stood, everyone was lifted . Her strong, booming vocals were beyond impressive from start to finish. Sandé prefaced her next song “Where I Sleep” with words of gratitude for the crowd.
“Thank you for being here and taking a chance with my music,” Sandé said. “I love to share these stories with you. Hopefully by the end of the night, this will be our own version of events.”
Everyone began to move a bit more as reggae beats filled the room for “Where I Sleep.” Sandé had the audience join in towards the end with claps and a call-and-response kind of sing-along. It was obvious that Sandé knew how to work a crowd and loved their participation as well. The set list was almost perfectly planned. About half-way through the set, Sandé took to the front of the stage with her bass player James to perform “Suitcase.” A ballad about heartbreak is usually enough to get someone going but Sandé’s voice shook my bones. Her choice to perform it with just the bass player was perfect; a track so raw didn’t need much accompaniment.
“Lifted,” a track that Sandé collaborated with Naughty Boy on, also stood out in the performance for it’s crazy synths. People got out of their seats just to dance around and clap along. Sandé’s stage prescence was infectious and everyone wanted to be a part of it. She asked the crowd if she could play just one more song and of course, everyone wanted more. “Wonder” made you feel like you were a part of the most powerful gospel choir you’ve ever seen. Sandé held up a “W” with her hands and almost everyone in the crowd followed as she wrapped up.
Sandé and her band exited but of course, she had to come back for at least one more. She killed it with her single that most have come to know, “Next To Me.” Before she could even sing a word, everyone stood and sung along until the end. Sandé might not be the most popular artist (yet), but what is for certain is that we have some great music from Sandé to look forward to.