Louisville, KY -- Sam Smith had a huge smile on his face during his dusk headlining set on the first night of the three-day Forecastle Festival on Friday. After a brutally hot day, his beaming look was extra special for the exhausted crowd because, as he told them, this was his first concert back after a three-month lay-off due to vocal cord surgery. He sounded amazing and the procedure appeared to be a success, but Smith had to cut things short less than 35 minutes into the gig when a freak severe thunderstorm blew in out of nowhere.
"This is also a very special night for me because three months ago I had surgery on my throat and this is my first time back," he said after a strong opening that included "Like I Can" and "I Told You Now." Smith, wearing a white, baseball jersey-style collarless dress shirt, black jeans and black suede dress shoes with no socks, told the crowd he really appreciated their enthusiasm and backing vocals, since it was his first visit to Kentucky and he was surprised anyone even knew who he was. (You won a bunch of Grammys, Sam, remember?)
Smith's falsetto was in full effect on "Leave Your Lover" and especially the sky-high "Nirvana." He even gave a bit of a dance lesson during "Like I Can" and shouted out his dad, who was in the audience. But after a tribute to Amy Winehouse with her 2006 song "Tears Dry on Their Own" mixed with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's 1967 smash "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," things got dodgy. Just over a half hour into what was supposed to be a 75 minute set, what initially felt like a refreshing breeze cutting the muggy, stagnant air turned out to be something way more sinister.
Within minutes, Smith was suddenly gone and organizers were urgently ushering the thousands of fans out of the venue and imploring them to take immediate shelter wherever possible. With strong winds kicking up dust and sending trash swirling around, the sky grew ominous and fans quickly evacuated. The area in front of the main stage was almost empty just minutes after the first alert, as banners on the stage were whipped around by strong winds and some vendor's tents began to sway and threaten to buckle.
Sam was bummed that he didn't get to finish.
And it gets worse. Apparently he fell while riding a "f---ing Segway thing" earlier in the day and he thinks he sprained his hand.
At press time local reports said that a violent storm with 60 m.p.h. and torrential rains was moving through the area and causing thousands to lose power. As of an hour after the evacuation there were no reports of any injuries to Forecastle patrons during the storm or quick exit.