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Hot new act a damp squib; REVIEW.

Byline: PAUL SUART

Sam Smith 02 ACADEMY, BIRMINGHAM SAM Smith was certainly the hottest ticket in town. The show, like many on his In The Lonely Hour tour, was a sell out.

Fans spilled out of every exit, partly because the venue was so packed, but also to escape the stifling heat inside.

True, it was an unseasonably mild evening.

But the Academy as a venue has for many years struggled to keep its cool, particularly for the busier shows.

Whether there was a problem with the air conditioning or vents, it remains to be seen.

Whatever the issue, it put a sweat-induced dampener on the night, not least for one woman who was led out of the steamy stalls with what appeared to be heat exhaustion.

It was just as well Smith produced the polished yet sluggish set he did.

There was no faulting his soulful, pitch-perfect vocals, suave suited appearance and genuine warmth when addressing the crowd.

But he must rethink the pedestrian pattern of his shows and the kind of cringeworthy song introductions usually reserved by super-slick pop stars from across the pond.

What came was ballad after ballad. Even the 22-year-old Londonder's more up-tempo numbers such as Latch - the dancy Disclosure track that brought Smith to prominence - were slowed to snail pace.

Like I Can, lifted from his charttopping debut LP, was one of very few highlights.

Whitney Houston's How Will I Know was stripped of all its pazazz and bounce, so too Money On My Mind. Not even the lively piano stabs from CeCe Peniston's Finally could save the latter from MOR mediocrity.

Having just cleaned up at the MOBO Awards, and with three number one singles already to his name, Smith has clearly gained enough critical and commercial acclaim to forge a very successful career.

But in a throw-away pop culture, where celebrity is achieved overnight and stars fade almost before they are born, he'll surely need to do more with his live offerings to keep it going.

HHIII

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Chart-topper Sam Smith kept his cool while those |around him struggled in the stifling 02 Academy

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Oct 29, 2014
Words:353
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