The surprising news that a new Sade album is on its way prompted not just excitement in these parts but a reminder that seeing the band, and the woman, was (mostly) a rhythmic pleasure. Wind Back Wednesday goes back to a summer night in 2011. Features bonus noisy appearance from a shoe designer and her posse. But not one pun on taboo.
Entertainment Centre, December 9
We should all acknowledge that Sade, the band as well as Sade Adu the velvety voiced woman, have suffered for our sins.
So ubiquitous were the gently rhythmic smooth soul songs from their first few albums 25 years ago that it seemed that all dinner parties were conducted to its sound and that every wannabe Lothario had them on the turntable. Consequently, Sade were labelled from then on as makers of mellow music for the mild and now middle-aged even as their last two albums showed more sharpness on the edges and more darkness underneath - and as people forgot how funky early songs such asParadise always were.
(Still, in these days of boorish audiences, some took the dinner party soundtrack seriously. Despite sitting virtually under Adu’s nose, a raucous group of twenty-and-thirtysomethings led by footballer Anthony Minichiello - who to be fair was probably the quietest of them - acted as if they were at a dinner party with this music as the background, screeching with laughter and shouting to each other in long conversations virtually the whole night. Shame we didn’t think to ask for the music to be turned down a little for them.)
The unfairness of the band’s labelling was brought home in the rippling oldie No Ordinary Love which put the urban into suburban and particularly with the tense Soldier Of Love and the prowling, hip hop-influenced Love Is Found where guitarists Ryan Waters and Stuart Matthewman (who, along with bassplayer Paul Denman and keyboardist Andrew Hale, is an original member) chopped and probed.
Of course, the likes of Your Love Is King, Smooth Operator and Sweetest Taboo still cruised into view to even more audience rapture than greeted the elegant moves, even more elegant outfits and well rehearsed and yet more elegant buttering-up chat from the seemingly age defying Adu.
Elegance and a poor sound mix which often buried Adu’s voice couldn’t obscure the fact that her pitch early on was rather off and later sometimes wavered. A sin maybe, but at least this was one you couldn’t blame on us.