Seal's current tour is pretty special, focusing on material from his first two mega-selling self-titled albums, and it hit NYC earlier this week for two shows at Beacon Theater. Things started with a video sizzle reel that featured not only footage of Seal from the last 30 years but also Seal-related moments in pop culture (reminding those in the audience who didn't know where they were who they were about to see?). Then the curtain raised, his band came out and the widescreen anthems commenced. The tour was originally billed as both albums in full, but it was more a best-of set. Seal looked and sounded great, bookending his main set with his two biggest hits: "Crazy," and Batman Forever anthem "Kiss from a Rose." Those had the crowd singing along loudly, but so did just about everything else he played, including "Future Love Paradise," "Prayer for the Dying," "Don't Cry," and others. For "Killer," his 1990 hit with Adamski that introduced Seal to the world, he went into the crowd, sang from the seats and turned the place into a dance party, then stuck around in the orchestra pit to lead a loud singalong of "Kiss from a Rose."
Beyond the focus on the first two albums, what makes this tour so distinctive is that its musical director is Trevor Horn, who produced both albums, and played bass as part of the band. Horn and the rest of the band also opened the show as The Buggles, his late-'70s group who had a hit with "Video Killed the Radio Star." Horn's had a long, varied career -- he was lead singer of Yes for one album around the same time as the Buggles, he co-founded sampling pioneers Art of Noise and ran influential label ZZT -- and is one of architects of the Big '80s Pop sound, having produced and played on records by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, ABC, Yes, Grace Jones, Spandau Ballet, Malcolm McLaren and others. The Buggles set was really more The Trevor Horn Show, opening with an instrumental version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Two Tribes," and then moving to the Buggles' "Living in the Plastic Age" and "Elstree." They then played Yes' "I Am a Camera," which Horn he last sang in NYC at Madison Square Garden in 1980. After that, it was Art of Noise's groundbreaking single "Close (to the Edit)," Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart," and they ended things, of course, with "Video Killed the Radio Star." I will note that in my row was original MTV VJ Mark Goodman, who was on hand when the song was the first-ever video shown on MTV. That was a cool moment to look over and see him singing along.
After The Buggles' set, Seal came out to announce there would be another surprise guest: young local singer-songwriter Zia Victoria, who he discovered and called "the voice of her generation." She played a short set, including a cover of Seal's "Crazy."
Pictures from the whole night by P Squared, plus Seal and the Buggles' setlists and video, are below.
SETLIST: Seal @ Beacon Theatre 5/23/2023
Future Love Paradise
Bring It On
Prayer for the Dying
Kiss From a Rose
Get It Together
SETLIST: The Buggles @ Beacon Theatre 5/23/2023
Living in the Plastic Age
I Am a Camera
Close (to the Edit)
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
Video Killed the Radio Star