Belgian singer songwriter, Selah Sue, graced the stage of The Great Hall.
Meleni Smith, who goes by the stage name Polly A, served as the evening’s opener. Smith, whose past songwriting credits include Alicia Key’s most recent album, garnered whoops and applause from the crowd. She delivered her soulful set with an appreciative smile, and an ease uncommon for someone embarking on their first ever tour. Toronto singer-songwriter, Ben Stevenson, for whom she helped co-write current single “Summer Dealer”, made an onstage appearance as well.
Selah Sue’s set started slow and intimate, with a spotlight illuminating her as she accompanied herself on acoustic guitar for ‘Always Home’. Gradually, the evening built as additional bandmates came onstage, first her keyboardist for ‘Reason’, and eventually the full band during ‘Daddy’. Before her show began, one could see Selah Sue and her band grouped into a sidestage group huddle. Whereas some artists might leave band introductions to the end of the show, Sue highlighted them in the first third of their set, as they each soloed during one of her more popular songs, ‘This World’.
The evening weaved between upbeat louder affair, and quieter tunes. Having recently finished a stint on the European festival circuit, Sue confided in the crowd that it was nice to play more intimate music as well. Throughout the evening, she showcased her higher register in ‘Falling Out’, performed a simple and beautiful cover of Billie Holiday’s ‘I Love You Porgy’, and shared what she called “the most soulful track off the new record”, ‘Sadness’.
The evening’s crowd was highly receptive to her performance, with some very visible hip twitching occurring throughout the evening. The audience immediately recognized the intro for ‘Won’t Go For More’, and enthusiastically started handclapping. Later, Selah Sue instructed them into a chant that formed the backing vocals for the track.
Whereas the prospect of an encore will leave some crowds cheering dutifully as they know it’s an inevitable outcome, the evening’s crowd stomped enthusiastically on the venue floor, almost creating a mini earthquake to usher her back onstage. Selah Sue’s encore was a perfect encapsulation of her set – the upbeat and sassy ‘Ragamuffin’ leading into the dark, bass heavy, and utterly epic ‘Right Where I Want You’.