On the small stage of a converted church in East London, a smiling Sam Smith is enjoying the emotion.
The audience invokes his name and screams before his band starts playing a single note. Everyone is totally focused on the present, about what’s going on at that time, because every cell phone was kindly kidnapped at the entrance by the staff who cares for the event. It’s a rainy Friday mid-September. This week the English songwriter has performed in Los Angeles and New York. Between two days he will do it in Berlin. The clubs in which they play have a limited audience capacity – each contains less than 1000 people – but expectations are, as it say, huge. Four concerts in four clubs, four different castings, one week: this is how a global superstar that fills the stadium returns after 18 months of silence – and returns after selling over 12 million copies with “In the lonely hour” (2014), his first album, and won four Grammy, three Brit Awards, one Oscar and one Golden Globe (the last two for “Writing on the Wall”, the theme of the Bond-movie “Specter”).
Now, in this ancient church, the fans’ reaction is adorable and devoted. A reassurance that a pretty nervous Smith really needs. “Fuck!” Exclaims the 25-year-old with a big smile at the beginning of her 55-minute concert. “It’s nice to be back. I’ve dreamed it for so long. ”
In November comes his “The thrill of it all”. It is a second album full of ballads that thrill emotions, broken hearts and romantic hymns to be sung around the world for months-for years to come. The bets are good: on the day when the London concert was held, the first single, “Too good at goodbyes”, fluttered in the top of the charts in various countries around the world. When, four days later, we meet in a pub near her home in North London, the tall, slim musician admits to being more relieved. He sang for the first time these new very personal songs. Now he can relax – a bit.
Sam Smith: Yes, after this week I’m destroyed. Because emotionally it was very demanding. I think these concerts have been, to this day, the most important part of my career.
S.S .: Yes. Those four little shows made me regain my craft, and I was scared again. When I started working on this record, I did not want to rest on the laurels. I always wanted to challenge myself. Every time my album goes out I want to feel like it’s the first one. And since my music is very personal, it was great that people were in a room without cell phones!
The U.V: What did you feel when this return has begun?
S.S .: I thought about these moments for the last year and a half. I always tried to stay away from word pressure, stress, but fuck (laughs, nda): launching the first single of the second album after the release of “In the lonely hour” is not an easy task. That album went badly well! I was scared! But when the tour ended, I found myself home in London and again the only thing that counted was music. So the release of this record is a fact that I feel very organic, and that comes at the right time. Nothing and nobody hurts me. I am proud of the work done.
The U.V .: “Too good at goodbyes” is very personal – you described it as a “song about a relationship I’ve had and basically talks about how, when it was over and left me, I did not suffer so much”. So, to inspire you was a disastrous relationship?
S.S .: It was not a disaster, nor was it so intense. It lasted five, six months. When it started I did not like much, and when it was over I felt even worse! So yes, I got thrown, it was over, and then there were two or three months of self-analysis – and much of the music was born from there.
U.V: We talk about “Pray”, of which we talked about as the possible second single.