Cillian O'Brien talks to 1980s diva Sade, as she returns to the stage.
April 29, 2011 will go down in history as Royal Wedding day but for music fans it will also be remembered as the beginning of one of the comebacks of the year.
Eighties soul superstar Sade returned to the world stage after more than a decade away with a show at Palais Nikaia in the French resort of Nice a few hours after Will and Catherine became man and wife.
Three days later I managed to catch up with Sade’s tour at Hamburg’s O2 World Arena.
And I can promise that fans won’t be disappointed when the show reaches Birmingham LG Arena on May 29.
Let’s not forget that Sade is a band, fronted by Sade Adu and featuring saxophonist Stuart Matthewman, keyboard player Andrew Hale and bassist Paul Denman.
They emerged on hydraulic lifts through the stage, the singer wearing her signature black polo neck, cropped trousers and sexy black heels.
Classy and sophisticated as ever, her voice sounded as warm as her ‘80s heyday.
It is an enviable achievement to have an eagerly awaiting audience having not performed live for 13 years.
“We are very lucky that we are able to just come out here and carry on and be welcomed in that way,” Sade says.
“I feel lucky that we still have that platform and we didn’t just jump and somebody pulled away the net.
“To continue doing what we do and know that we are loved is a great thing.
“I can honestly say I’m really excited about the new tour. It’s old and new songs, not just a showcase for the new album.
“One of my favourite songs to perform is Cherish and in the past I’ve loved to sing Pearls – to just let go and cry it out.”
Sade are one of the most successful British bands of all time, with record sales of more than 50 million.
The young-looking and attractive singer, aged 52, now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her new partner and daughter, who was born in 1996.
Last year’s Soldier of Love album was the band’s sixth in its 25 year career. It won a Grammy award and reached number four in the United Kingdom.
Sophie Muller, who has worked with the band since their first album, is visual director for the show, her stunning visuals projected onto a screen of white curtains throughout the show.
Despite the vastness of the space, Mueller helped to make the show an intimate experience for the audience, with the use of clever-staging, lighting and velvet drapes.
With a voice that could melt the ice caps and a set of classic love songs, including Your Love Is King, Is It A Crime and No Ordinary Love, Sade revelled being back on stage, changing into a slinky evening dress for King Of Sorrow.
The mix of older songs and new material, such as The Moon And The Sky, melded perfectly together, to create a set which sounded fresh and contemporary.
The usually reserved German audience gave her a standing ovation.
Helen Folasade Adu was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. Her father was Nigerian, a university lecturer and her mother Anne was an English nurse.
The couple met in London while he was studying and moved to Nigeria shortly after getting married.
When their daughter was born, nobody locally was prepared to call her by her English name, and a shortened version of Folasade stuck. Then, when she was four, her parents separated, and her mother brought Sade and her elder brother Banji back to England, where they initially lived with their grandparents just outside Colchester, Essex.
Sade’s first single, Your Love Is King, was a top 10 British hit in February 1984, and launched first album, Diamond Life.
For the remainder of the 1980s, as the band’s first three albums sold millions around the world, Sade toured more or less constantly.
For most of the past 20 years the singer prioritised her personal life over her career, releasing only three albums in that time.
“You can only grow as an artist as long as you allow yourself the time to grow as a person,” Sade says. “We’re all parents, our lives have all moved on.”
Support on the tour comes from The Jolly Boys, who once provided music at film star Errol Flynn’s wild house parties in Jamaica.
Their cheery renditions of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab and Iggy Pop’s Passenger got the crowd in the mood.
Sade The Ultimate Collection is out now, featuring a cover of Thin Lizzy’s Still In Love With You and a remix of The Moon and the Sky by Jay-Z.
* Sunday, May 29: LG Arena, Birmingham Tickets: £55 and £75 from 0844 338 8000.