After hitting the United Kingdom charts because of his collaboration with Disclosure on “Latch,” Sam Smith has created a name for himself not only in the UK, but in the United States as well. His debut album In The Lonely Hour tells all about his personal struggle with loving someone who didn’t love him back. Smith wore his heart on his sleeve as he made his debut on Austin City Limits this past Thursday.
As Smith’s eight-piece band started playing “Nirvana,” a track off of Smith’s early EP, fans cheered wildly wondering where he could be. Almost a minute after the band started, Smith came out and what started as a ballad, ended in a booming anthem-like track. This transition is a common theme during Smith’s shows which fans love. He spoke often throughout his set which created an intimate vibe between him and the audience. Smith shared that he never connected with male singers and it was the music of female vocalists like Etta James and Amy Winehouse that showed him how to sing. When Smith belted out the sweet, but soulful, ballad “Lay Me Down,” couples hugged and swayed in place.
He paid tribute to one of the greats by singing his own rendition of “How Will I Know,” by the late Whitney Houston. Smith’s version was beautifully paired with the piano and turned down a notch for a much slower execution. He ended his set and brought the house down with a powerful mashup of his two songs “Money On My Mind” and “Finally.” After Smith and his band exited the stage, people cheered and stomped in efforts to bring them back out for an encore. Much to the audience’s pleasure, Smith and band returned to perform fan favorites “Latch” and this summer’s big hit, “Stay With Me.” The singalong that ensued after Smith began the last track caused him to let the audience take a chorus, which was a hit. This epic performance can be caught next year when season 40 premieres on PBS.