Sade warms souls at MGM Grand

At a Sade gig, love isn’t just in the air, it is the air, something to be breathed in right along with all that date night cologne.

Call it the respiration of the romantic ideal.

Sade (as in Sade Adu, the 52-year-old British singer) catapults her heart at you with the aplomb of an invading army launching boulders over castle walls in medieval times.

Even she characterizes it as combat, at times.

"I’m a soldier of love, every day and night," she purred over a storming, martial beat and wisps of dusky guitar during a show opening "Soldier of Love" at a packed MGM Grand Garden on Saturday night, ending the song with a military salute to the crowd for good measure.

The love that Sade sang of comes in supersized portions — it’s like a Big Gulp of passion, a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese of amour.

Ms. Adu, a little help with the metaphors, please.

"My love is wider, wider than Victoria Lake. My love is taller, taller than the Empire State," she noted during "Is It A Crime" in a voice that was equally husky and honey-dipped. "It dives and it jumps and it ripples like the deepest ocean."

The song in question was a sultry, overheated ballad, peppered with a climactic burst of saxophone, the kind of tune that prefaces clothes hitting the bedroom floor and windows getting foggy.

This is what Sade (the singer and her band both go by the same name) are best known for: seductive, slow-simmering, jazzy vamps where Adu sings in a voice so soft, smooth and supple, it was as if it was scoured with a pumice stone.

Most of said songs are delivered with Adu wearing a smile as big as her Hula Hoop-sized earrings.

But this is only half of Sade’s repertoire, as the band, which consisted of eight members live, is more combustible than it often gets credit for.

Take "Love is Found," for instance, with its jagged guitar riffs, forceful percussion and a jarring bottom end, with Adu’s voice wafting through the tune like tendrils of smoke rising from the flames the band conjured.

"My heart goes ba-boom-boom-boom, ba-boom-boom-boom," Adu sang, and the song followed suit.

Similarly invigorated was the moody, searching, disconsolate rock of "Take Me Home," culled from the band’s latest record, "Soldier of Love."

It’s perhaps Sade’s most emotionally and sonically turbulent album, as shadow-strewn as a film noir flick, exemplified by songs like "Skin," which slithered by on a trip-hop beat, with muted keys and bass levels that you could feel reverberating in your chest, and the stark, blood-freezing ballad "Morning Bird," one of the most arresting songs of the evening in its barren beauty.

Much of Sade’s material is rooted in inter personal relationships, but the scope is broader at times, such as on "Pearls," about the struggles of a woman in Somalia, originally released in 1992, during the height of civil conflict in that country.

Still, that song fits neatly in the band’s catalog because it’s posited on uplift, which is the thrust of many of Sade’s numbers, from the hip-swishing shuffle of "The Sweetest Taboo" to the hand-on-the-shoulder singalong "By Your Side."

"I want to cook you a soup that warms your soul," Adu cooed reassuredly during "King of Sorrow," giving voice to her ultimate mission statement.

But Adu’s no chef, so instead, she sings.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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