Seal Performs with the San Francisco Symphony Music in SF

Seal Leaves His Heart in San Francisco

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In the end, you’d only need a couple of words to describe last night’s Seal performance with the San Francisco Symphony at Louise Davies Symphony Hall: Simply Unforgettable. The return of the singer, most famous for his song “Kiss from a Rose,” took to the stage early on a Thursday evening, with the style and grace of a 1920s movie star but blessed with the pipes of a seasoned Rat Packer.

This San Francisco performance was the first stop on his latest tour to promote an album of Jazz standards entitled very simply “Standards,” which contains 11 classics from the Rat Pack era, including “Luck Be a Lady,” “My Funny Valentine” and “It Was a Very Good Year.”

Seal Performs with the San Francisco Symphony Music in SF
Seal Performing with the San Francisco Symphony (Thursday, Nov. 30, 2018)

He was recently quoted as saying in an article with the Examiner that his back-to-basics decision was the indirect result of a personal crisis, brought on by tragic world events.

“All of those things painted a very dark, gloomy, bleak picture, and if you have kids like I do, you’re left thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, is this what we’re leaving for them?’” he said. “So I got pretty depressed. But I refused to buy the notion that we, as a species, have somehow lost our way.”

Last night he did his best to try to keep the mood severe and moody, but unfortunately, his charm and wit kept getting in the way. In between songs he’d share a comical personal anecdote, which made the crowd gitty and at times unable to control their laughter. He’d sing a song, tell a joke, then gracefully and humbly thank the symphony for their fantastic backing musicianship. All the while each perfect step and whimsical move seemed effortless for this seasoned professional.

When you’re starting out in this business nobody tells you that there’s so much traveling involved. Which is fine if you’re 26 or 27…but I’m 54!

The show was divided into three parts. The first included performances of all the classic songs from the black and white era. The old crooner hits first sung by Mel Torme, Tony Benett and Old Blue Eyes were performed flawlessly by the handsome Brit, who confessed to the stunned audience that he was 54. (he really looks like he’s in his 30s.) Then midway through the show, he surprised everyone by pulling out a beautiful gold Stratocaster to perform some of his most famous hits. This included, of course, a magical, shivering rendition of his iconic “Kiss from a Rose.”

To close off the magic, he slowly whisked us into the holiday season by performing a series of Christmas carols, which included “A Christmas Song” and “Let it Snow.” It was a perfect way to start the Christmas season, to close the chapter on an enchanting evening, and a delightful way to conclude a performance that I rank up there as one of my favorites for 2017.

Set List

First Set

Intro Music
Luck Be A Lady
They Can’t Take That Away
I Put a Spell on You
Funny Valentine
Autumn Leaves
Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
I’m Beginning to See the Light
Love for Sale

Second Set

Kiss from a Rose
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
A Christmas Song
Let it Snow
That’s Life!

Outro Music

Encore: Crazy

Photos by Louis Raphael

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Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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