By Brad Wete
Updated June 27, 2011 at 06:07 PM EDT
Splash News

I’ve never seen so many people fill a venue so big to see so little. But then again, Sade’s little is a lot.

Last Friday (June 24) the band, led by veteran British Nigerian songstress Sade Adu, stopped at New Jersey’s Izod Center. She surfaced from beneath the stage just after 9pm, in a sheer black shirt, matching pants and heels, and bathed in purple lighting, to sing her last album’s title track, “Soldier of Love.”

To pack a venue as large as the Izod, one might think that there would be more to Sade than what the audience got that evening. There was no glut of costume changes nor were there any elaborate dance sequences like you’d expect at, say, a Beyoncé concert. In fact, Sade never even broke a sweat (I was eight rows from the stage, close enough to have seen a bead on her brow or forehead—had there been one).

The beauty of her show was in its simplicity. At 52, Adu is gorgeous and elegant. Her gentle sways and slow struts during “Kiss of Life” were sexier than anything I’ve seen from performers half her age. Her moves were smoother and effortless, not contrived and fixed.

Sade’s stage setup was lovely and sparse as well, but subtle switch-ups provided by a curtain doubling as a projection screen took us on journeys down railroads, gloomy alleyways, and over lakes.

And it must be said that Adu’s voice is stellar. Her foggy coos on “Sweetest Taboo” were as glorious as her quaking wails on “Is It a Crime.” Though her efforts were at times trumped by the excellence of Stuart Matthewman on saxophone and guitar.

She concluded the show barefoot in a white gown, letting loose “King of Sorrow” and “By Your Side,” then finished being showered by a flurry of pink confetti. Adu would return shortly after for a much-appreciated single-song encore,“Cherish the Day.

Adu made a 20,000-seater feel like an intimate venue; bells and whistles were unnecessary. Her and the band’s sounds were more than enough.

Have you seen Sade on this tour yet? Are you planning to?

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