Sade: Bring Me Home Live 2011
Sade averages a new album about every ten years, so it’s a blessing she’s followed 2011’s Soldier of Love with Bring Me Home, which celebrates her first concert tour in a decade.
Sade’s music is about creating a laid-back, romantic atmosphere and the album’s highlights succeed in setting that mood. With its baleful sax runs and staccato verses, the exceptional “In Another Time” has the lovelorn ache of a 50’s torch song. The drum machine dominated “All About Our Love” from 2000’s Lover’s Rock is harmonic heaven accentuated by guitarist Steve Matthewman’s pinpoint fills.
With shimmering strings and horns straight out of a James Bond film, “Love is Found” starts off sounding like Sade as Edith Piaf, then BOOM, it turns into hip hop/flamenco/heavy metal. Sade’s voice navigates the crunchy riffs like a siren calling out to ships at sea. The overall affect is confounding but cool and shows a very different side of Sade.
Sade reshapes and redefines her older material. The languid pace of “No Ordinary Love” is replaced with a more deliberate beat and grittier guitar work, but you can tell by the crowd’s approval that the tougher approach works. “By Your Side,” arguably the best tune from Sade’s last two studio efforts, is bolstered by confident back-ups and Sade’s increasingly wounded vocals. It also retains the same squawks Matthewman’s guitar made in the studio version when he slid his fingers down his acoustic – now that’s paying attention to the small details!
The helicopter-coming-in for-a-landing sound effect brings to mind Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” rather than an unusual lead-in for a funkier, fascinating version of “Paradise.” The addition of a fish out of water rapper for the truncated version of “Nothing Can Come Between Us” is one of the few mistakes on the album. Sade doesn’t need a rank amateur cheerleader to get people to holla when the music speaks for itself.
Sade knows the limits of her sultry voice. She hits a few flat notes now and again, but she’s propped up by her crackerjack band, particularly Matthewman, who does double duty on sax and guitar.
Sade’s live act definitely brings it home. She’s a smooth operator.