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The City Journals

REVIEW: Friendship, Spirituality and Superb Musicality—that’s Seal

Jul 20, 2019 05:37PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Seal gave sold-out Red Butte Ampitheatre more than a concert—an experience.(Red Butte Garden Ampitheatre)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected]

Going to a Seal concert is part making a new friend, part having a spiritual experience, and part resolution to the tunes that have been rolling through your head for weeks.

But those songs, truly, are not even what you remember most from seeing Seal, who performed recently at Red Butte Garden Ampitheatre. What you remember most? The feeling of euphoria.

A Thursday started feeling like a Friday, moved to a Saturday or Sunday

The weekend started early, Thursday, July 18, as international star power took the stage at Red Butte. English-born, world-celebrated Seal was opened by the worthy Australian Rennie Adams.

Coached by Seal, after his winning the Australian “The Voice” reality-TV talent competition, Adams performed joyously—performing his own material and a brave cover of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.” That performance is a credit to not just Adams’s trilling but Clapton’s lyrics.

As does Seal who, over the course of three decades, has sold 20 million records around the world, been decorated with Grammys and MTV awards, and produced some of the greatest ballads ever.

At Red Butte, the audience greeted Seal with a standing-O, without his saying or singing anything. It speaks to his celebrity and to the appreciation Salt Lake City has for him. 

During the concert, Seal generously mingled among both sides of the lower-grass bowl of Red Butte, celebrating babies, accepting gifted roses from the audience, and being the enigmatic gentleman. 

With Seal, it is more than mingling, though: It feels like authentic, mindful interaction—as said in the opening, the notion of spirituality or universality, delivered through a concert experience. It was a joyous Saturday- or Sunday-feeling worship, blended with Friday fun—on a Thursday night.

“I am trying to train myself to see the essence of what we are—at our core—we are love,” he shared with the audience. 

And perhaps more poignant, without being sappy:” I could cry right now, but… I’ll sing.”

And sing, he did—of course, paying off the third statement at the beginning—hearing vibrant, better-than-recording-studio renditions of classics and others not as familiar.

The Seal sets

Early numbers (both in terms of his early writing/studio recording and his set list) exuded his star power. “Deep Water,” “Show Me” and “Whirlpool” were all expressively delivered and dated back to his 1991 debut album—“Seal.”

Both the song and the live rendition of 2015’s “(Give Me) Love” really speaks to Seal’s ever-evolving spiritual side.

On the other hand, “Prayer for the Dying,” which has been simmering with the artist since 1994, is a song he wrote, which continues to inform his understanding of life. As he sang, the whole lower bowl returned to its feet.  

Right around 10 p.m., Seal stayed with 1994, delivering an inspired version of “Kiss from a Rose.” The lyrics were amazingly smooth and delivered with spirit.

And any review of Seal is incomplete without mentioning 1991’s “Crazy,” which the artist also performed with aplomb. 

Sealing the deal

Experiencing Seal? Part friendship, part evangelism, part rave, all clap-euphoria.