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Review Archive/October 2011

Updated October 3, 2011

SADE' LIVE; Greensboro, NC, Coliseum
Sheeesss Baaaccck!

Click to Enlarge Sade' Live Pic!By Jay Whipple/Trend Magazine Online™

It has been over a decade since my all-time favorite female vocalist has graced the stage with her extremely talented band lead by lead guitarist and tenor sax player Stuart Matthewman, bassist Paul Spencer Denman, and keyboardist Andrew Hale. Helen Folasade Adu (Sade’, pronounced Shar-day) was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, on January 16, 1959 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is January 15. She is the daughter of a Nigerian university teacher of economics Bisi Adu (Father), and English nurse – Anne Hayes (Mother).  Her parents met while he was studying at the LSE (London School of Economics and Science) in England, and they moved to Nigeria (Africa) shortly after getting married. None of the locals in Africa were motivated to call Helen by her English name so an abbreviated version of Folasade (Sade’) was adopted and the rest is history. At the tender age of four years old her parents separated and Sade’ along with her older brother Banji were brought back to England by their mother where they initially lived with their grandparents just outside of Colchester, Essex. Ironically, her abbreviated name (Sade’) was given to a very bad boy born in Paris, France on June 2, 1740, who today is affectionately known as The Marquis de Sade. Unlike him, she has brought much respect and dignity to the name.

I became hooked on her and her band’s music from the get go when they released their first album in 1984 called Diamond Life (Which I own) featuring the hits Smooth Operator and Your love is King. That next year, 1985, the band followed up with Promise (Which I also own) which was the group’s first number one album which features the enduring hit The Sweetest Taboo. In 1988 Stronger Than Pride (Which I also own) was released and it was so good that I got stuck in the sand on Boynton Beach, Fl., listening to it while heading back to Charlotte, NC, from Miami, Fl., my hometown. Their fourth album, Love Deluxe (Which I also own), dropped in 1992 and featured her nude on the cover (I’m Smiling), followed by their greatest hits collection in 1994 (The Best of Sade’). The group lay dormant (To my dismay) until late in 2000 when they made a much anticipated return to the spotlight with a performance at a UK (United Kingdom) awards show, and then followed up two months later with their fifth studio album Lovers Rock. Their next album, Lovers Live, culminated from their tour and it dropped in 2002.

And then it happened again, my worst nightmare relived; they seemingly dropped off the face of the earth much like the actor/pseudo cowboy George Randolph Crane (Randolph Scott) did in 1962 which prompted the Statler Brothers to write and perform a tune called “What Ever Happened to Randolph Scott.” in 1973. Note: Find out what ever happened to him on Charlotte’s Longest-Running Daily City Tour presented by Queen City Tours and Travel. Although I now know what happened to Mr. Scott, I had no earthly idea of what happened to Sade’ and her band. I searched the internet periodically and the only intelligence that I was able to uncover was another dude looking for them as well. This guy would post on his blog every January 16 (Her birthday) that he loved and missed her; well so did I and her/their legion of fans.

I was about to give up on her/them when last year (2010) the buzz began about a concert tour. At first I thought that it was pure conjecture but the rumors were too numerous. And then it happened; euphoria, eureka, and not Aretha Franklin but another Sade’ hit blazed the airways in 2010. A Soldier of Love was released as part of their brand new and much anticipated sixth studio album, with a follow-up album this year entitled The Ultimate Collection. The rumors had now been confirmed that one of the greatest unsung-hero bands of our generation was to embark on another world tour. I was so excited that I had forgotten how long it had been since I last saw Sade’ live in the early 1990’s in Charlotte, NC. I then became very concerned that perhaps their long state of dormancy had gotten the best of them like some of the older acts from the 1960’s and 1970’s whose voices are not nearly as strong as they used to be – can I get a witness? I was even more concerned after their live performance on the Today Show earlier this year (2011) proved to be far less immaculate as before; and Helen/Sade’s voice was week and un-discernable. Yikes I thought; how could this happen to my all-time favorite female vocalist? I actually felt pity for them and soon became dissuaded at the notion of seeing them live again. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” I missed their performance in Charlotte, NC, this past July, and really did not think about it as much as I anticipated. I guess deep down inside I was still upset at the sudden disappearance of my favorite vocal artist coupled with their poor performance on the Today Show earlier this year – 2011.

Some things, however, are just meant to be, and when that is the case, hell or high water cannot stop your destiny! As faith would have it, I was listening to the radio when they announced that Sade’ would play the Greensboro, NC, Coliseum on Saturday September 10, 2011. Well, well, well I thought; this is my sign to get to that show and see what you missed in Charlotte. After purchasing my ticket online the thought came to me to share my experience with the readers of Trend Magazine Online™ and since she was my favorite singer I was well equipped to impart to you my reasons for loving her/their music.

I arrived at the Greensboro Coliseum just after 9 PM. I was pushed for time because I had a late QCT Charlotte Daily City Tour that ended just before 7 PM. I quickly switch from my touring clothing into my concert clothing in the parking lot. Why is it that you end up parking next to the only family leaving the place just when you are getting dressed? I was inside the coliseum by 9:30 PM which means that I missed the opening act – John Legend. I was quite surprised when Tom Joyner actually had the audacity to question why Mr. Legend was opening under Sade’. Even John thought that the question was highly inappropriate and did the right thing by setting Tom straight as to the gravity of and history of her and her band’s legacy. It just shows how much he (Tom) doesn’t know about good music.

My adventure started off with a plus as my nose-bleed seats – Due to budget constraints – were upgraded to lower level seats at the ticket office. I guess they recognized me? – Not really! I must have been living right? It had been over two decades since I attended a concert in this arena. I think I went to see Atlantic Star back in the day. I was told by the usher that Sade’ was expected to join the stage at about 9:45 PM and perform for two straight hours. Wow! How is that possible? She also told me to listen for Bob Marley’s classic “Three Little Bird’s” a.k.a. “Don’t Worry about a Thing, Cause Every Little Thing Gonna be All Right,” to cue her entrance. Well it was 9:45 PM and sure as shoot the cue/song was played and shortly thereafter The Lady Shard ascended from underneath the stage as a phoenix rising from the ashes/abyss to re-claim her throne as my all-time favorite female vocalist. To my surprise, she opened with her latest hit, “Soldier of Love,” from the album of the same name. This song hits home with me and makes me want to suit up again and jump out of a perfectly good aircraft while in flight – not! The video is the bomb and shows a more commanding side of the 5’7” divorced natural diva. It was way cool when she saluted each side of the audience towards the end of the song. She wore a skin-tight sexy black outfit to open their show. It was very moving to hear her apologize for being away so long and that sealed the deal for me as I was back on their bandwagon – get it, huh?

After that they broke into Your Love is King, from their first album Diamond Life (1984). She was in great physical shape for a women in her early fifties and displayed her trademark sultry and sexy moves that leave much to the imagination of many salivating men, including myself. It was indeed a pleasure to hear that her voice had been returned to its previous state of strong and distinctive smoothness which earned her trademark status as a genuine diva. In other words, she sounded just like the record – just like the late Luther Vandross (May he R.I.P.). The band was back to its usual form of musical perfection as well. I am a former first trumpeter, French horn, and baritone player, so I am not blowing smoke up your wazoo! They are really that good! So good that this brotha in the audience could not contain himself any longer and yelled out “we love you Sade’!” I cannot player hate because I did the same thing when I first saw her live – and I was there with a date.

Click to enlarge Sade' Live Pic!The next treat was Kiss of Life from their Stronger Than Pride album in 1988. This song was accompanied by a larger-than-life size video at the back of the stage. The stage was also transformed right before our eyes as a huge curtain was lowered from above which also featured video footage to add to the audience’s delight. It was like watching a movie/video live! The stage then recessed after the first set and the band broke into Smooth Operator, her signature hit from Diamond Life (1984). I was a bit disappointed in the band initially on this one because the first sax solo by Matthewman was a bit off kilter and breaking up/too choppy. The guitar solo, by Denman, however, was on point as well as the second sax solo by Matthewman. I now figured out how she was going to perform for two hours straight as I saw her rushed down the steps and behind the stage towards the end of the song before for a wardrobe change. She emerged a short time later wearing a black and white pant/coat outfit that I have seen in one of her videos. The band was dressed quite smartly as well wearing black and white old-timey gangsta garbs.

I was quite impressed at the demographic make-up of the audience as it consisted of Black and white, and the younger as well as the more mature crowds. Next up was Jezebel taken from their Promise Album in 1985. This time Matthewman was on point from the start with his alluring sax solo. I loved the way they isolated and projectedClick to enlarge Sade' Live Pic! each musician on the larger-than-life screen behind the stage --especially the upright bass – while The Lady Shard crooned while seated on the front of the stage. This song invoked intermittent screams from the audience as she and Matthewman collaborated so effortlessly as they serenated us all. Their performance was greatly enhanced by Click to enlarge Sade' Live Pic!the lowering of a full white linen see-through curtain which I had seen before during her concert in the early 1990’s. They followed that slow jam with another one “Is it a Crime” from the same Promise Album (1985). For this hit the stage transformed again by the lowering of red-draped curtains on each side accompanied by a mist of smoke emanating from the back of the stage. For a fleeting moment I forgot that I was watching Sade’ live and thought to myself-- Is it a crime that she is so sexy? Back to the matter at hand, the sax, piano, and guitar solos by Matthewman, Hale, and company (Respectively) were as Sharon Osborne would say “Spot on;” even the women in the audience found themselves standing and waving their arms while these titans of entertainment entertained. In fact, most of the audience was on their feet at the end of this powerhouse performance.

Then came one of my favorite Sade’ tunes; Stronger Than Pride, from the same named album in 1988. This is when it dawned on me that The Lady Shard – Who likes to perform barefoot - was indeed back as she mesmerized the crowd with her uniquely sultry and smooth vocals with equally smooth and tempting moves. Unlike some younger performing artist of today, she does not have to vigorously gyrate and concoct wardrobe malfunctions to get attention; which simply means that she will be popular and a hit well into her twilight years. Listen and learn young buckettes! This song was accompanied by a video diary of her life with the band played out on the larger-than-life video screen at the back of the stage. It was about this time in the show when I began to plot my way into a better spot to get a better camera shot. I was told earlier by my usher that I could not move over to the section to my right to get a shot of the big screen which displayed a large clear image of Sade’ and her band. I waited for the right moment to make my move which was during the song Nothing Can Come Between Us Click to enlarge Sade' Pic!from their Stronger Than Pride album in 1988. This song had everyone on their feet especially when they heard that bass guitar rip – Bu ba de Bon be – played by Denman. On this hit she does a cute dance step with her background singers. I sometimes pretend that I am one of them. Anyhow, this was my prime Click to enlarge Sade' Live Pic!opportunity to weasel my way closer to the big screen for a closer and clearer picture of Sade’. This time I found a much nicer usher who permitted me to get into the right spot for my digital pics. I snapped away until she (The usher) told me that it was time to leave as other meaner ushers were watching.

I left the coliseum with thirty minutes performance time to go in order to beat the traffic but not after accomplishing my mission both on a personal and professional level. It was indeed a pleasure to share this experience with you in hopes that it with brighten your day especially if you missed Sade’ Live 2011. One can only hope and pray that they will not disappear again leaving someone else to write and perform a tune entitled “Whatever happened to Sade?”

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