“What you’ve got here is a perfect 20-minute distillation of The Sam Smith Experience: The Grammy-winning 2014 ballad that kicked off the singer’s career (“Stay With Me”), a sleek dance-pop banger (“How Do You Sleep”) and a chart-topping dollop of debauched hedonism (“Unholy”) bundled together with “Lay Me Down,” in which Smith performed a gorgeous duet with LaDonna Harley-Peters. From the stately to the louche and bawdy — Smith even introduced “Unholy” with a perfect summation of their recent artistic direction: “Let’s get saucy!” — it’s all here.
Performing with an 11-person choir and two instrumentalists — sadly, Kim Petras wasn’t there to emerge from between Smith’s legs as if she were being birthed — Smith brought an overflowing bag of tricks to the proceedings. But what really shone through was a sense of movement: Each song swayed and played effervescently, centering Smith while also elevating every other magnificent voice in support. This set may not serve as anyone’s introduction to the music of Sam Smith, but it’s still a hell of a gateway — and a joy to behold.”