The 32nd edition of the Montreal Jazz Fest comes to a close July 4th with a free outdoor concert by the legendary pop-rock band, the B-52s. The late night party will draw thousands of music enthusiasts to the main stage at the Place des Festivals in downtown Montreal. Surely, everyone will be dancing in the streets.
Marianne Faithfull also performs at an indoor venue on the last day of the star-studded fest, which began on June 25th. Other artists who performed at this year’s Montreal Jazz Fest included the Roots, Esperanza Spaulding, and last minute addition Prince, who in his first fest performance since 2001 took over Metropolis nightclub for two nights June 24-25.
The highlight of the jazz fest, however, was arguably Sade’s June 30th show at the Bell Center. NY Getaways Examiner flew to Montreal just to see Sade — whom we’ve seen perform in Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Las Vegas. In fine voice, special guest John Legend did an adequate-albeit-a bit cheesy opening set. But it was evident that the packed audience of about 12,000 fans was there to see Sade.
In her first concert tour in ten years, the sultry, jazz-pop-soul chanteuse took the stage donning her signature sleek ponytail, big hoop earrings, and red lipstick. The 52-year-old beauty is curvier than when she arrived on the music scene a model-thin lass in 1984 with Diamond Life, but the years have been kind to this still fresh-faced beauty of mixed African and English heritage.
Helen Folasade Adu opened with her latest hit, “Soldier of Love,” from the 2010 album of the same name. The cool, stripped-down arrangement of the song gave Sade – dressed in a skin tight, black sheer shirt with patent leather sleeves, military-inspired pants, and black stilettos — plenty of wiggle room to tease the crowd with her coyly seductive moves.
Sade is also the name of the singer’s band, which includes masterful musicians and original members Stuart Matthewman on sax and guitar and Paul Spencer Denman on bass and guitar (they formed the band Sweetback with Andrew Hale). Special lighting effects and screen visuals made the show a more polished production than previous tours and highlighted their performance as a unit. Even when Sade wasn’t singing, however, her easily recognizable profile was always silhouetted.
She promised the Montreal crowd she’d make up for lost time and she wasn’t kidding. During the two-hour, 20-song set, Sade performed most of the hits and standout songs from her six studio albums. Older songs like “Your Love is King” and “Smooth Operator” from Diamond Life, and “Love is Stronger than Pride” and “Paradise” from Stronger Than Pride seamlessly mingled with new tracks from Soldier of Love.
Proving she can dress masculine and still look feminine, for her second wardrobe change, Sade paired a crisp white shirt with a black, menswear-inspired vest and trousers. In this mode, Sade rendered a pitch perfect and sparsely arranged rendition of “Jezebel” from Promise while sitting on the right side of the stage. “Reach for the top, she said/The sun is gonna shine/Every winter was a war, she said./I gotta get what’s mine.”
“Jezebel” bled into “Is it a Crime?,” freshly reworked with a guitar solo. From there, Sade slipped from the stage and let her backup singer Leroy Osbourne have the spotlight with the crowd-pleasing “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” which he performed with her on Stronger Than Pride.
A barefoot Sade returned with her hair down in bouncy curls wearing a long white gown that hugged her womanly curves and gave a glimpse of her red lace bra. In this attire, she launched into the “King of Sorrow” from Lovers Rock and “Sweetest Taboo” from Promise.
Perhaps the most riveting performance from this part of the show and the entire concert was her heart-wrenching rendering of “Pearls” from Love Deluxe. “She lives a life she didn’t choose/And it hurts like brand new shoes.”
As an encore, a long red-dress clad Sade with her hair once again pulled into a perfect pony, performed the jubilant “Cherish the Day” from Love Deluxe. The set design morphed into the New York City skyline and an elevated Sade became part of the scenery – proving to the audience her love is indeed almost taller than the Empire State. Although this was Montreal, Sade’s homage to the Big Apple left NY Getaways Examiner beaming with pride.
Sade is on tour through September 2011. To catch her in a city near you, go to ticketmaster.com. Sade’s 2-CD The Ultimate Collection is also available online.