Feb. 5, 2015
While it wasn’t sold out, Thursday night’s Seinabo Sey show at The Chapel sure felt like it was. The rising Swedish soul pop singer (whose name is pronounced “see”) coursed through her recent For Madeleine EP with a refreshing honesty and connection that she built with the crowd throughout the night.
[jump] Adorned in a light black jacket with the sleeves rolled up to show her black long-sleeved shirt underneath and an extravagant gold necklace, Sey stepped into the limelight. Flanked by a drummer to her right, keyboard set-up to her lef,t and a synth station directly behind her, she simply breathed into the microphone and the whole crowd stood in awe. As bass-heavy syllables spilled forth, those of us who hadn’t heard her powerful delivery before were visibly surprised and the ones who had screamed and threw their arms up in glee.
The choral opening track, “River,” came with a bang. Sey was reminiscent of Banks on stage, although she's a much brighter being and just more cheerful than her American counterpart. She often punctuated her lines with hand gestures that accompanied a “You lookin' at me?” expression.
For the first of many conversations with the audience, Sey let everyone know that this was “the last show on the tour and it’s a dream come true for me.” She noticed some fellow Swedes hollering at her and acknowledged their presence sweetly. With this type of graciousness and confidence, calling to mind '90s songstress Des’ree, Seinabo wasn’t hard to fall for.
At another point, just before embarking on a deeply emotional song, she confessed to us that she wrote the song for a man she once professed her love for. She envisioned a storybook love with him, “like The Notebook,” she joked, but because things didn't go as planned, “now I have to fill it with new meaning to not feel pathetic.” She was smiling with brutal honesty and, like a spiritual healer, she proclaimed her affirmations: “I’m proud that I told him and proud that I'm capable of feeling emotions. If you like someone, tell them!”
She dominated the track. There’s just something to be said about pouring your heart out to the crowd and then delivering on an emotional and heartbreak-filled song in a major way, all the while, sporting a radiant smile and so much swagger.
The newest single, “Hard Time,” brought out the sing-alongs in the crowd, with the deep bass drum one-two-ing with her vocals. But this was just the beginning of the end of a short, albeit memorable, 35-minute set. Having only one EP to her name, she mentioned how much she wants to come back and tour with more material. “I’m trying to finish my album!”
And then, on cue, she burst into her mega-hit, “Younger,” a song that skyrocketed all the way to the top of the U.S. Billboard Dance charts. The crowd was rhythmic and danced while Sey effortlessly breezed through the song that put her on the world map. Her lyrics resonated even more with us when she explained its theme of empowerment, perseverance and fortitude to be the rising star that she is now.
She exited and of course, we called her back out for one more tune. At first she appeared solo, but when it was clear we weren’t taking “no” for an answer, she rushed backstage and called her band back up with her. Seinabo’s voice resonated all the way to the top of the high vaulted ceiling at The Chapel and all we could think about, was seeing her next time with her debut full-length album to share.
Concert faux pas of the night: Holding your cellphone up from the front and recording an entire song is annoying enough. But when you put said cell-phone on a selfie stick and raise it up so it’s in the artist’s face too, there’s a special place in hell for you.