It’s pretty rare to have an audience dancing in the aisles of the Colston Hall by the second song of a set, especially on a dull old Monday night after a weekend of tiring sunshine revelry, but it’s instantly apparent, as he launches into his 1990 hit Crazy, that Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel – to call him by his full, regal name – has a legion of firm fans in this city.
They’re clearly looking for a party – the vibe in the auditorium is jubilatory from the outset, and especially after a group of four lads dressed in seal onesies are spotted climbing the steps to their seats, barking all the way and getting everyone giggling. Happily, our host for the evening is just as keen to deliver a party, and as an elaborate light show gets underway to the opening bars of the bassy, gloriously nostalgic Killer, it almost feels as if we’ve been transported to an Ibizan nightclub for a short while.
With the packed-out room in the palm of his hand, Seal continues to pump out his signature pop-soul, with that edge of electronica – defying us to believe he’s 53 years of age as he moves and grooves slickly about the stage. After slowing things down with some of his more intimate, stripped back and mellow but equally vocally powerful tracks, Seal bestows a couple of covers – a version of Sally, by one of his favourite duos, Hall & Oates, and a particularly apt rendition of Tears for Fears’ Mad World, because he for one can’t make sense of what’s going on at the moment, he explains.
It’s a nicely chatty, interactive show punctuated with big bursts of energy and tender moments of vulnerability – that strong, distinctive voice reminding us why this solo artist has so deserved the longevity of his musical career. Then, before we know it, it’s time for the encore – what else but Kiss from a Rose – which begins with one man, his acoustic guitar and his willing audience readily reciting any line they’re asked, and crescendos into an emotive finale of epic proportions. Yes Seal, yes sir.