Sade and John Legend
Has Staples Center ever before oozed with such love? And not just the gooey, puppy love stuff neither. All the most time-worn of L'Amour's swooning, blushy themes played out Friday, with Sade delivering all love's ups and downs in her impressively dignified and consistent way.
During the dawn of the "Quiet Storm" sound in the early '80s, Sade was never quite as black as Keith Sweat, as jazzy as Al Jarreau, or politically cool as Paul Weller and his Style Council. She was still, however, hip enough to play opposite Bowie in Absolute Beginners. Sade was the cosmopolitan sound somewhere in between with subtle strains of repetitive bass, gentle saxophone, and her soothingly pensive voice. Sade's is woodwind in itself: low, British, restrained and so beautiful on just a few notes she never bothered to fluctuate around to too many others.
Never the typical, flashy big-time pop female performer, Sade Adu retains that easy control over the breezy and blissed-out emotional catharsis she's gently dragging you through, and never flies off the handle like other "divas" whose octave-bouncing, vocal calisthenics pass for showmanship.
Despite the anomaly of her style, or probably because of it, Sade's been asked so many times to do guest spots on hip hop records, its almost an industry joke at this point. True, Sade and the band would supply the perfect bottom-y swagger and chorus to any hip hop track but, alas, she has made it famously clear over the years that her sole profession is singer and songwriter in the band with which she plays. There will be no side gigs, guest spots or samples.
For better or for worse, that means audiences have to deal with the stadium-sized Sade, which comes out gun blazing in all the theatrical glory you'd expect but also brings some glaring drawbacks.