17 February 2018 (gig)
17 February 2018
Brighton is heaving on this cold but beautiful February Saturday. This could be because the winter sun is shining brightly across the shimmering stony beaches or because there's a home FA Cup tie for Brighton & Hove Albion. Maybe it's because two British male singers of very different heritage are performing tonight. One of those is the former lead singer of The Jam, whose male fans wander the promenade and dodge the seagulls, displaying haircuts that should have stopped seeing daylight more than three decades ago. Mixing with the Paul Weller lookalikes are the quieter and less 'blokey' fans of Seal. It's no mods and rockers rivalry but there's a clear difference.
Seal made his name in the 1990s, thanks to the pulsating Killer and its various mixes, but he has more recently taken the safer root of reversioning soul and jazz classics. This means there's a slightly female skew to the audience for this latest gig on his Standards tour. Named after his new album, the show sees him perform the likes of Luck Be A Lady, I've Got You Under My Skin and That's Life with a cool panache. Highlights of the gentler first half of this show are I Put A Spell On You and the stylish It Was A Very Good Year. The Brighton crowd is warm and polite but it's not until Seal switches gear they begin to share his groove.
With an announcement of 'don't let the standards fool you' Seal moves it up a notch as he revisits some of his bigger hits. It's a reminder of some great pop music; the likes of which is missing from modern charts. The evergreen Kiss From A Rose is followed by Future Love Paradise, Prayer for the Dying and of course Killer. This sees Seal make one of several trips into the audience where a young lady in a green dress is about to have the one dance of her life that she's never going to forget.
After maxing out the nightclub vibe with Life On The Dancefloor, there is no way Seal can return to the jazzy relaxation of the earlier set. Instead, he delivers a rousing rendition of perhaps his finest song, the one that in his words 'started it all twenty nine years ago', the dynamic and exhilarating Crazy. I am sure the Paul Weller fans just around the corner have had an equally good night but those at the Dome have no doubts about where they would rather have been.