MONTREUX, Switzerland(Reuters) - British soul singer Sam Smith, freshly recovered from surgery on his vocal cords, delivered a smooth yet punchy concert to jazz fans on Tuesday night in his first appearance on the famed Montreux stage.
Smith opened with “I‘m not the Only One”, followed by other chart-topping hits from his 2014 debut studio album “In the Lonely Hour”, including “Leave Your Lover”, “Restart” and “Not in that Way”.
“Wow, this is amazing to me for many reasons, I get to play a jazz festival which is historic. I saw Claude Nobs’ house yesterday and got to see all the history that has happened over more than 40 years, all of my idols,” the 23-year-old said.
The late Nobs, a Swiss, founded the festival in 1966, bringing legends from Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Prince over the decades to the shores of Lake Geneva.
Heartbreak paid off handsomely for Smith, a newcomer who won four Grammy awards in February including record and song of the year for his anthem “Stay With Me.” [ID:nL1N0VI0O3] He was anointed best new artist.
“The most painful kind of love is unrequited love, it only felt natural to write about it,” he said on Tuesday, performing “Lay Me Down” and “My Funny Valentine”.
In late April, Smith canceled the remainder of his Australian tour due to a hemorrhage on his vocal cords, apologizing to fans but saying the decision was taken on doctor’s orders. [ID:nL8N0XP44Y]
“Three months ago I had surgery on my vocal cords. To be able to do a gig in a tiny venue is incredible, I prefer this to anything,” he told the crowd at the Montreux Jazz Lab where fans paid 92 Swiss francs ($97) to stand for the sold-out concert.
“I’ll be back next year,” he added.
Smith, accompanied by five musicians and three vocalists, confidently hit the high notes in songs including “Nirvana” and “Make it to Me”.
Introducing “Money on my Mind”, he said: “This is the only song not on the album about love. A lot of people are making music for the wrong reason. Believe me there people out there who only make music for money. This one person pissed me off so much I wrote the song.”
For the encore to the 70-minute show, he sang “Latch”, “Make it to Me” and finally “Stay with Me”.
Alessandra Ruggiero, a 26-year-old Swiss, said: ”I enjoyed it but it was too short. Given the fact that he is a young singer it’s normal that he has a little playlist.
“I find him very likeable. It hasn’t gone to his head. You could tell that after his operation a few months ago he had great pleasure being on the stage.”
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay