Seal’s recent concert at The Anthem was a seated performance.
Well, that was perhaps the theory. But everyone in the massive venue was on their feet and rushing the stage when the soul singer appeared for his first song of the evening, “Crazy,” from his debut self-titled album.
Anticipation was high earlier in the evening as people gently filled the concert hall. But their congeniality barely contained a bursting excitement over the opportunity to see the man of the hour — Seal, the extraordinarily talented British chart buster.
For his part, Seal was so laidback yet so in command of the stage at The Anthem on May 10. Women swooned; men crooned; Seal beamed. He was there in this sparkling music venue to celebrate a combined 30th anniversary of his first two studio albums, both named Seal and both released by Trevor Horn’s ZTT Records in 1991 and 1994 respectively. Seal paced through a total of 14 songs at The Anthem, drawing mostly from Seal I and Seal II but also Seal IV, from which he pulled his two encore songs — “Get It Together” and “Love’s Divine.”
Watch the official music video for “Love’s Divine” by Seal on YouTube:
At about halfway through the concert, Seal performed the instantly recognizable “Bring It On” from Seal II. His band sounded amazing, capturing the texture of the soaring soul song perfectly. Of particular note, Trevor Horn himself was a powerhouse presence on bass, positioned at stage right, often directly behind Seal. Trevor also served as musical director for this engaging and uplifting show.
Two songs later, Seal poured his heart into the same album’s “Don’t Cry,” a compassionate tender song that showcased his uniquely comforting tenor. In performance throughout the show, Seal accentuated his vocal power with outstretched arms or a carefully considered hand in the air, and he emoted with the same techniques during the powerful “Don’t Cry.”
Of course, Seal ended his main set on “Kiss from a Rose,” which initially appeared on his Seal II album but gained USA chart power thanks in part to exposure from its inclusion in the soundtrack to Batman Forever. At The Anthem, Seal unspooled the song carefully, introducing it to the audience with a call and response of an opening vocalization.
Seal steeled himself and released his graceful croon, which filled the room with dignified air and reserved romantic yearning. The bustling crowd hushed for the song, full of both longing for and redemption by love. Seal sang it tenderly, part lullaby, part torch song, part rallying cry. At the end of the song, he returned to a call and response, inviting the audience to sing out, “la da da.”
Watch Seal perform an acoustic version of “Kiss from a Rose” for the Jennifer Hudson Show via YouTube:
Dapper and handsome — regal even — Seal was an impressive performer and a gracious host to starstruck concertgoers. The audience left buoyant, happy, and likely a little misty-eyed, but ultimately very pleased to have spent the evening with Seal and his music.
Opening Seal was Trevor Horn, performing with other members of Seal’s band as The Buggles. His fellow band members wore black T-shirts that said “Best Buggles Band Ever,” and they performed six songs that encapsulate the early days of Horn’s career. I never expected to see such a wholly remarkable performance as Trevor signing any songs by The Buggles, so it was an incredibly satisfying experience. The band boogied to an instrumental redefinition of “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood — a song lifted from the band’s debut album, which Trevor produced for ZTT.
The Buggles famously joined Yes, and Trevor sang “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” which he produced for the Yes album, 90125.
The other four songs in the set were all tunes by The Buggles — three lifted from debut The Age of Plastic and one from Adventures in Modern Recording. And so I was gobsmacked witnessing Trevor and the band perform “Living in the Plastic Age,” “Elstree,” “I am a Camera,” and yes “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
The band really nailed it on all accounts and Trevor was in very fine form as he shared a few brief stories and sang clearly and warmly for the numbers. Again, what an unbelievable opportunity! I can only hope this inspires Trevor to mount a Buggles headlining tour and bring in his friend and collaborator Geoff Downes for a peak ’80s synthpop experience. That’s certainly a show I would get out of my seat for.
Here is Trevor Horn fronting The Buggles at The Anthem on May 10, 2023.
Here are some photos of Seal performing at The Anthem on May 10, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.