Where: BBC Radio Theatre, London
When: Monday 20th September 2010
Reviewed by: Roger Goodgroves
Despite having his first album out 20 years ago Seal released only his 7th studio album “Commitment” this Monday. To help launch the album Seal performed with his band for the Radio 2 “In Concert” series at the BBC. The beautiful radio theatre is an intimate 300 seat art deco style building inside the main broadcasting house and is a great place to see live music and a very rare treat to see an artist of Seal’s stature in such intimate surroundings.
I first saw Seal live back in 2004 at a Prince’s trust gig to celebrate Trevor Horn’s 25 years in the business. Despite not really being a “fan” of Seal before that night he blew me away and really stole the show. When you consider that artists also appearing that night included Grace Jones, Yes, Frankie goes to Hollywood and Simple Minds it was no mean feet.
Tonight’s show wasn’t as grand and had no royal appearance from Charles although I felt like a king having managed to secure seats in the middle of the front row. There is of course a downside to being so close, with the stage only a few inches higher as I had Seal holding my girlfriends’ hand and serenading her through one song. She certainly wasn’t complaining!
The downside of this evening was the comparatively short set. Only 13 songs and the time flew by. There was a good mix of songs with Seal kicking off with “Killer” and his cover of “It’s a Man’s world” from his previous album of soul covers.
Seal then showcased a couple of songs from the new album. These inevitably didn’t get the same reaction as the familiar tracks however I can certainly see “Weight of my mistakes” being one that the fans will scream out for in future years.
Seal was very chatty this evening and spent a fair amount of time explaining where some of his thoughts came from for his songs. Seal is married to model and TV presenter Heidi Klum and the relationship seems very strong despite the media focus. Seal’s lyrics on the new album and the previous album of his own material are focused in a great part on love and relationships. Despite Seal’s joking denial tonight that they aren’t auto-biographical you certainly feel that they are heart felt and based on real experience.
Seal was asked to include a cover in tonight’s set and chose the powerful Ultravox song Vienna. This is a great showcase for Seal’s strong voice and showed once again how Seal can take a song from almost any era and make it something special.
Talking of special, Seal’s Grammy award winning “Kiss from a rose” was next up. This is one of my all time favourite songs however I’m tempted to say that the song should be dropped from the set list for a while. Seal seemed to react very negatively to seeing it on the set list and I felt that he was doing the song because people will expect it rather than he was 100% behind delivering it. Don’t get me wrong, Seal made a professional delivery and the crowd certainly were glad to hear it, I just get the impression that it is “tired”.
“Crazy” on the other hand was delivered with gusto and passion and soon lifted my spirits before Seal closed the show with the new single “Secret” and a very long, standing ovation. The crowd wanted more and I’m sure Seal would have gone on much longer if it wasn’t for the BBC’s time limits.
See the photo section here for shots from tonight’s show.
The show will be broadcast tonight (September 23rd) on Radio 2 as part of the “In Concert” series. Broadcast time 8pm (also available on iPlayer for the next week).