Seal live in Sydney
- By Shannon Andreucci -
- May 08, 2012
Seal took a break from his coaching duties on hit TV show The Voice Australia last week, leaving his magic red button and swivelling leather chair behind to showcase his own accomplished voice to a live audience. The British singer-songwriter is on the promotional trail of his eighth studio album Soul 2, and seemed to do a lot of soul-baring himself; revisiting timeless tunes, reminiscing over his estranged wife Heidi Klum, dedicating tender ballads to his daughter and expressing his newfound happiness in living and working in Sydney.
Despite his widely-publicised personal woes, Seal emerged on stage in high spirits, wearing a radiant red ensemble and a smile from cheek to cheek, as he waltzed to the forefront singing ‘If I’m Any Closer’. So impassioned was he by the crowd’s unabated enthusiasm, that Seal descended into the seating stalls and serenaded his female-heavy fandom with ‘Human Beings’, too. The ladies in the house couldn’t contain their delight when the suave singer then casted off his jacket, leaving an indecently unbuttoned black shirt, and gyrated his pelvis to the hot soul song ‘Back Stabbers’ (originally by The O’Jays).
Unless you are a diehard fan, Seal arguably only has a handful of recognised songs on the market. The audience seemed to be a combination of crazed, long-time devotees who knew every lyric to every song (two mid-aged fans actually wandered up to the stage at one point and offered the singer a plush seal toy as a token of their love) and everyday music aficionados who simply came to be entertained by a multi-platinum selling soul artist and a full backing band (and of course, to hear that song from the Batman Forever movie soundtrack).
Both fan types got what they wished for. Accompanied by an eight-piece band, Seal grooved his way through a soul-drenched set, which featured many cover songs on his latest album, including Teddy Pendergrass’ sensuous classic ‘Love T.K.O’ and Rose Royce’s soulfully-charged hit ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’. But the 49-year-old singer also took a trip down his own memory lane, revisiting the bittersweet, candle-burning song ‘Prayer for Dying’, which he dedicated to “anyone who has ever lost someone close to them”, as well as the highly obscure and ethereal ‘Still Love Remains’.
Wrapping his signatory husky baritone around sweet melodies and ice-melting falsettos, Seal’s seemingly God-given vocals glided through the arena and spellbound many spectators. He may not have had any mind-blowing visual or technological tricks up his sleeve for this fairly stripped back tour, but Seal has an undeniable vocal talent and an uncanny ability to make people feel like they are the only one in the room, locking them in with his sincere gaze as he sings poetically and stretches out his long arms to them.
He also knows the key to getting a crowd up out of their seats, singing and dancing: reverse psychology. “What we’re going to do now is have a sing-song and a dance”, he said. “I won’t tell you when to get up because this is your hometown after all, so I’ll leave it to your discretion.”
It was no surprise then, that the entire stadium rose to their feet and danced with the first blare of horns in Al Green’s hip-swaying reel ‘Here I Am (Come and Take Me)’. Seal revelled in the mass sing-along session he induced, proceeding to dish out two more classic cover songs; Eddie Floyd’s bombastic ‘Knock On Wood’ and Al Green’s starry-eyed ‘Let’s Stay Together’.
The tempo of the evening experienced a change when Seal strapped on an acoustic guitar and delivered the divine, folk-tinged tune ‘Whirlpool’, which again showcased his expansive vocal range. After being prompted by the sympathetic audience to muse over Miss Klum, he finally performed the much-anticipated gargantuan hits 'Kiss From A Rose' and 'Crazy'. He was more than happy to indulge women pressed up against the stage with some hand-holding and quixotic eye contact for these soulful numbers and ended up leaping into the crowd once more to dance with all his swooning fans.
During the encore, the hungry crowd pleaded Seal to come and dance with them again. “Why?” he asked. “So you can mob me again?” He then playfully decided to single out and bully the woman in the red dress who allegedly kept grabbing his crotch during the performance of 'Crazy'. But quickly putting all jokes aside, the Grammy-winning artist retrieved the acoustic guitar and played 'Secrets', a beautiful song he once penned for his 7-year-old daughter when she was in the womb. And sending the two-hour show off with a bang, as he put it, was the uplifting clubland track 'Amazing', which had the arena giddily dancing their way out of the concert hall.
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