Due to my extreme lack of funds, my mother bought my ticket for Sade’s Orlando, Florida concert. John Legend was the opening act. Because of ticket prices, I hadn’t planned on attending. Yet, because she’s a huge Sade fan, my mother wanted to see her. And she didn’t plan on going alone.
When July 17 arrived, we left my mother’s house at 6:30PM for the 8PM show. I was the driver. Knowing Downtown Orlando’s traffic, I figured it wise to leave as soon as possible.
After a twenty minute drive on Interstate 4, the heavy downtown traffic proved me right. Some parking lots were already filled. I found a parking garage for ten bucks, a bargain because the garage exists right across the street from the Amway Arena, the spot hosting Sade’s performance. Another parking garage was charging twenty.
After parking on the garage’s third floor, we took the elevator down.
As we walked to the Arena, my mother and I noticed the racial make-up of people attending the concert, folks of all races.
“She did say her fans were mixed,” said my mother.
As we entered the arena, a middle-age black woman checked my mother’s purse and a younger black woman scanned our tickets, tickets printed off my mother’s home computer after she purchased them online.
Because I am not a sports fan, I have never been inside the new Amway Arena, the Orlando Magic‘s home.
We took the escalator up to our seating level. Then, we walked passed the doors to our seats.
Due to fear of heights, it took me awhile to get used to the seating. I had never been in a stadium as huge as the Amway Arena. I don’t know how high up we were, but it was too damned high for me.
A few minutes after 8, John Legend and his band came onstage. I’m not much of a John Legend fan. Yet, his performance impressed me, especially when he sung “Ordinary People”. He ended his performance with “Green Light”, a hit he recorded with Andre 3000.
People were still entering the arena.
I think a half hour passed between John and Sade. Then, the lights dimmed and folks began cheering.
First, the opening tunes to her latest single “Soldier of Love” started. Soon, the Queen of Elegance began walking out of the stage. Not walking on it. Walking out of it. Also, her eight piece band was rising from below the stage. Of course, the crowd went crazy when they saw Sade.
By this time, the whole stadium was nearly full.
As Sade gracefully walked the stage, a thought came to me. All these years, I’ve always remembered her as classy. Unlike some of today’s female stars, I have never seen Sade use sex to sell records. Instead she always focused on the music. (Later. Jim Abbot of the Orlando Sentinel would write something similar about this.)
As she performed, either colored lights flashed or film would show.
All day and night, I had been thinking about “Ordinary Love”. And wouldn’t you know it, she sung it.
Still, there was a special song I was waiting on, a song I recently added to my DJ play list.
I enjoyed her singing “Smooth Operator” and “Is It A Crime”. During the opening tunes of “Nothing Can Come Between Us”, audience members clapped to the funky beat. Still, she hadn’t sung my favorite song.
During the performance, a middle-aged black woman dressed in white danced in the aisle. Twice the usher told her to sit down.
Also, in between songs, folks yelled, “We love you, Sade.”
When Sade sung “Kiss Of Life”, a black woman sitting next me told her friend, “We made Tony during that song.”
Sade rarely spoke. Yet, when she did, I realized I’ve never heard her speaking voice before. Singing, she sounds almost American. Talking, it was obvious she was British.
At the end, she introduced the band. Then, they all bowed and exited the stage. She didn’t sing my song, but that was okay. I was glad to witness one of the most beautiful performances ever.
“She usually does encores,” my mother said.
Folks began leaving. A few minutes passed and still no Sade.
“I guess no encore,” my mother said.
Then, music came on. I recognized the song right away.
“Yes!” I said as I clapped.
All the musicians came onstage. Next wearing a red gown, Sade entered and began singing “Cherish The Day”, the song I was waiting on. In the background, a film of a city skyline flickered. A see-through screen began covering the stage as Sade stepped on a platform that began rising her high above the stage. The film still flickered as Sade continued singing.
I said this when I saw Everlast perform “What It’s Like”. It’s one thing to like a song. Yet, it’s a whole new experience to witness the actual artist perform it. Tears dripped down my cheeks. Truth be known, tears fell throughout the whole show. But not like this.
Then it was all over. All night, I attempted holding on to this experience as much as possible. Yet, the good times sped by too fast anyway.
I’ll never forget this night, the night I saw the Smooth Operator on Sunday, July 17, 2011.