Sam Smith wanted to put on a very special show for fans in Manchester, U.K. on Wednesday night (May 24), promising before the gig that “we’ve got a surprise for you this evening… ‘Unholy’ won’t be the last song.” Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and the singer had to cut the gig at Manchester’s AO Arena short after just four songs.
“Dearest sailors, I don’t know what to say honestly. I fought off a virus a few weeks ago and since then we have travelled across Europe and had such incredible shows,” Smith wrote in an Instagram Story reposted by the venue about the issues that have dogged them on the tour in support of their Gloria album. “Today in soundcheck I felt fine and was so excited to give Manchester an amazing show tonight, with a special surprise at the end.”
But, Smith said, during the third song, “I noticed something wrong with my voice. I prayed it was just my voice waking up for the show but into the fourth song I could feel something was really wrong. I came off stage and have tried everything to get my voice back in gear but it won’t. I am honestly heartbroken I couldn’t finish the show tonight for you all. I love you all. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry x.”
A fan described the night in an essay for the Manchester Evening News, writing that they expected to see what they read was an elaborate production in three acts. The set opened with “Stay With Me,” followed by “I’m Not the Only One” and “Dancing With a Stranger.”
“Throughout the songs they did, Sam looked at ease, happy, and genuinely like they were loving life,” the fan wrote. “Their vibes were rubbing off on everyone else, and the whole room felt filled with love. Everything seemed to be going perfectly. That’s why it was such a shock when there was a sudden pause in the songs, with an overhead tannoy citing ‘technical difficulties.’”
She wrote that fans were not initially sure what was happening, but after 15 minutes they were told that the house lights would be coming on, as fans began making their way to the exits. “We sat for another ten minutes, hoping for good news, but the tannoy then notified us that due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ the show was cancelled,” she wrote.
Smith’s European tour was slated to continue on Thursday night (May 25) with a show in Glasgow at the OVO Hydro. On Thursday morning the venue announced that the gig had been canceled, along with a show in Birmingham on Saturday (May 27), with refunds for all three shows available at point of purchase. “Sam is heartbroken to have had to cancel these shows but they have been told by doctors that if they keep singing, they will do permanent damage to their voice. If they take some rest, they will be able to perform again,” read the statement. The next scheduled show on the tour is in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 31.
The bad news came just as Smith teased a mystery collaboration with Madonna earlier in the day on Wednesday. At press time no additional information had been released about what the project is.
See Smith’s statement below.
— AO Arena (@AOArena) May 24, 2023
Sam is heartbroken to have had to cancel these shows but they have been told by doctors that if they keep singing, they will do permanent damage to their voice. If they take some rest, they will be able to perform again.
— OVO Hydro (@OVOHydro) May 25, 2023