The British R&B crooner opened his set with “Stay With Me,” backed by the choir, along with a full band and string section, through the arrangement left enough room for his buttery vocals to take center stage.

Sam Smith sings soul songs, but not in the usual way. Where most of this genre’s singers shout, he moans. While anger fires many, Smith focuses on hurt. It’s the sound a wound would make, a cry without defense or deflection. The music does little to distract from the pain. It’s entirely comprised of slow, open ballads.

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