A Night Of Love, Great Music And Even Some Nonsense!
On Monday June 19, my daughter and I went to the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith to see American singer Sabrina Carpenter headline her first London concert on her Emails I Can’t Send tour. We first saw Sabrina in Girl Meets World and became immediate fans of hers, following her first steps into pop music and seeing her supporting The Vamps back in 2017, a concert I reviewed for this website, picking out Sabrina as one to watch for the future. 6 years on, my prediction was going to be well and truly vindicated.
When I arrived, I was a bit worried that I was going to be the oldest person there! The number of dads at the concert was much lower than usual because Sabrina Carpenter’s fanbase appears to have grown with her and probably 90% of the audience were young women in their late teens and twenties. The t-shirts and signs were an indication that this was a night for the real fans, and the people in the queue – which stretched through Hammersmith – were vibrant and enthusiastic. It was one of the best atmospheres I have seen outside a venue. What was it going to be like inside?
The support for the night was Annika Bennett, a young American singer/songwriter with a very similar vibe to Sabrina Carpenter. She appeared on stage without any warning, but she got a huge cheer, the first of many throughout the set. Her style was perfect to warm up the crowd, and there were obviously a number of people in the crowd who had checked out her Spotify account beforehand, because there was some enthusiastic singing during the choruses of some of the songs. She was only accompanied by her guitar, but when you play it as well as Annika does, that is just as good as a full band. Her songs were well crafted, and her stage presence was appealing and full of subtle empowerment. At one point in her set, she stopped and pointed out someone in the standing section who needed help and waited until the situation was sorted out before continuing. It set the tone for an evening that was caring, inclusive and positive from beginning to end, with Sabrina Carpenter doing the same thing during her set. Annika Bennett is on the bill for Hyde Park, along with Sabrina Carpenter, supporting Blackpink. Get along there early if you have a ticket and enjoy Annika’s set. She is definitely a star in the making.
When Sabrina herself started her set, the response was unlike any other I have seen in a concert venue. As one, everyone in the seats stood up when the first few notes of ‘emails I can’t send’, the title of her excellent and most recent album, rang out. They proceeded to stay on their feet singing and dancing for the whole of the set. Even I joined them, as I got caught up in the atmosphere! The wave of love from her fans clearly took Sabrina herself by surprise as she mentioned for the first time, though definitely not the last, that she couldn’t believe she was headlining a sold-out concert in London. You could see and hear the emotion, and it was a moment that heightened the feeling in the venue. Pretty much every song in the set was brilliantly performed and rapturously received, but I wanted to pick out a few of my personal highlights. Vicious is one of the most cutting songs in the set, with anger and defiance running through it. You could tell from the audience reaction that it was cathartic for a fair few of the fans!
The next song I wanted to pick out is my personal favourite from her latest album, the sublime Skinny Dipping. Musically, it sounds like a modern take on Walk on the Wild Side, and like that song it tells a story with skill and style. Sabrina is a pop artist who knows how to embrace a number of styles, but it on this song that her vocals shine and show her versatility. It is a song with conversational verses and a beautifully constructed chorus which shows off her gentler side. The audience reaction showed that it wasn’t just me who finds this irresistible. A few songs later we were treated to the lyrically and emotionally complex Tornado Warnings which she introduced to the audience in a very heartfelt way, setting it into its context at the time she wrote it. It’s clear that she thinks very deeply about her songs and puts a huge amount of herself into them. That is one of the main reasons, I think, why her audience love her and her music so much.
Given the number of songs she has herself that are of the highest quality, it’s not surprising that she has no need to fall back on more than one cover. That cover was Smile, originally by Lily Allen, and she performed it brilliantly.
Fast Times is a fun track with a real early 2000s vibe and it sent the audience into raptures as she prepared to move into the last section of the concert. Sabrina Carpenter is absolutely superb at reading a venue, as we saw in that early performance supporting The Vamps, but here she just surfed the wave of love, affection and excitement from the audience. She was clearly astonished at times by the response of the crowd, but she did not put a single foot wrong all night. The final two songs just sent the already excited crowd into raptures. Nonsense is a very funny song that reflects on how the person she is crazy about can cause her to start losing control of what she says. The outro is great fun, because at every venue she plays, she changes the lyrics to reflect where she is. This amazing concert finished with the crowd favourite Because I Liked a Boy which had every member of the audience screaming the chorus back to her.
Sabrina Carpenter’s star is on the rise to stratospheric levels with her status as second on the bill to Blackpink at Hyde Park and, of course, to Taylor Swift at venues across the world! By this time next year, many more people will know who she is, but her fans already do. She is an artist who, as this concert conclusively proved, is a beacon of love, inclusion and positivity. When you see her, you are guaranteed to leave the concert feeling better about everything. In my case, I felt younger than I have in years!