Written & Captured By | Morgan Argabrite
Friday night in downtown Denver is always an amazing sight. Everyone’s rushing around, heading off to different bars and music venues, seeing where the night would take them. On Friday, August 18th, though, you could tell even just starting in the early afternoon that everyone in Denver was headed to one place, Ball Arena to see Sam Smith.
The stadium had a waiting line that wrapped around the building into the street. There were security guards everywhere, all open to helping everyone try and figure out where they were supposed to be while hoards of people kept piling into lines to get a chance to see what ended up as a once in a lifetime show.
The outfits on the guests were immaculate. People from all ages, ethnicities, and genders, all decked out in dresses, covered in sparkles, rhinestones and glitter decorating the bodies and the faces peering around the corners to see the lines move faster and faster, waiting for their chance to get into the stadium and to their seats (which, nearly everyone ignored the whole night, up on their feet, jumping and dancing along to those on stage).
By the end of the night, you wouldn’t be able to see an open seat anywhere in the house.
The show started as an incredible guitarist took the stage, playing a beautiful intro as Jessie Reyez, decked out in a denim skirt, a South Park T-Shirt, and high heel black leather boots came skipping out onto the stage. The moment that she started to sing, the crowd was absolutely captivated. People were signing along, screaming the words, and jumping up and down in excitement. Jessie had an amazing banter with the crowd, she opened her set by mentioning that maybe not many people knew her (modest even with her impressive 4+ million following), asking for everyone’s consent to treat the night like a first date. She wanted to get to know everyone there, and she wanted to tell everyone things about herself.
See more photos of Jessie Reyez HERE
And a first date it really ended up feeling like. Despite the massive crowd, she told jokes, and spoke with such a venerability, that it felt like a personal connection was being made with everyone in the room. While her guitarist absolutely shredded on the guitar, and Jessie’s vocals were incredible to match, she filled the moments between the songs with speeches about equality, and empowerment. She got the entire audience to do positive affirmations with her, having us all scream that we were beautiful and powerful. She talked to people in the crowd about living in the “friend zone”, and after having a conversation with two of the guests in the audience, she changed words in the song she was singing to match their names. After dancing wildly around on stage, pausing for some softer songs on acoustic guitar, and then bringing her band back out to dance some more, she ended her set by thanking everyone and then skipped off stage yelling “I’m motherfucking Jessie Reyez”.
I felt the energy in the stadium charge as the house music stopped, the lights went pitch black, and a woman walks out on stage. She’s graceful, draped in golden cloth, moving slowly but elegantly across the massive stage. She walks up to a giant figure, that’s been sitting on the stage this entire time, covered in a cloth. She gracefully lifts the cloth off in one fell swoop, revealing a massive, golden figure, naked, and laying, covering one end of the stage to the other. A massive display of a human. The music starts, and we see musicians rising from a platform on the figure, and Sam Smith rises with it, covered head to toe in gold, with a gorgeous top and a cowboy hat.
They start to sing their hit song ‘Stay With Me’ and the crowd absolutely loses it. Sam sings the rest of the song with a voice that somehow is even better than the recordings, and you can tell that the crowd absolutely loves everything that’s happening on stage. They connect with the audience, being incredibly kind, honest, and almost raw with them, following the vibe that Jessie set, somehow allowing a genuine connection to be made even through thousands of people being there.
Sam continues on through the set, accompanied by musicians on stage with them, and a three piece choir that adds to the entire unearthly vibe that’s been set for the night. They has an amazing interaction with their guitarist, who they single out to have everyone applaud as the guitarist gives way to an absolutely unreal guitar solo. As the song ends, we see Part 1 of the show end, with Sam disappearing behind a trap door that leads beneath the massive golden statue.
We see Part 2: Beauty appear on the screens, followed by a woman’s voice telling a story. The lights shift so it looks like the lights are raining, an amazing, soft, emotional scene is somehow set by the voice, the imagery on the screens, and the lighting which is changing, and slowly descending closer to the stage. As the lights shift, we see Sam arise from below the statue for a second time, and in par with the theme for Part 2, we see Sam dressed in a beautiful, giant ball gown. For the beginning, it’s just Sam, and a pianist accompanying them.
The vocals somehow seem even more beautiful than the start of the show, which seemed impossible. More musicians join on stage as platforms raise behind the figure. Sam talks about emotional things, speaking about how difficult the pandemic was, once again connecting with the musicians that were sharing the stage with them, and spoke intimately about the music that they were playing. One dancer comes out, followed by another, and then eventually four more, allowing six beautiful dancers to interact on stage with the musicians, Sam, and the statue. As Sam screams out “Let’s turn this place into one big gay bar”, the dancers drape them in a giant, fluffy pink robe, as they all come out with matching bright pink fans. Part 2 comes to an end as a wonderful 70s moment with rainbow, flashing lighting, and the dancers along with Sam just dance around and have a great time. Everyone leaves the stage once again as we lead into…
Sex. I don’t know what I could’ve possibly expected, but absolutely nothing prepared me when Sam Smith comes out on stage, dressed in a holy veil, with a holy golden crown, with beautiful golden light covering the stage. As ‘Gloria’ is played, I was amazed to see the choir, also dressed in gold, sing alongside them. We see the lights make a quick change and what started as a religious experience, it slams the audience into the theme of part 3, and it is very aptly named, sex.
See more photos of Sam Smith HERE
Dancers come on stage in black robes, remove the veil from Sam, revealing them in no shirt, fishnets, rhinestone gloves, and nipple pasties. They pull, lick, and push Sam, we see Sam placed into a coreset of black, red, and golden jewels. As the dancers robes come off to reveal BDSM wear to match, the audience is finally given the climax of the show, as Sam Smith sings Unholy. The crowd goes absolutely wild, everyone dancing along with the dancers on stage, singing at the top of their lungs, and jumping around. The show comes to an end, even though the crowd isn’t ready for it. Sam gives one final encore to satiate the crowd.
The entire Denver Ball Arena stadium empties out, showing tear-stained faces, sweaty bodies, and above all, giant smiles plastered to every single person’s face.
Photos By | Morgan Argabrite