Review - Seal @ the Mountain Winery (7/13/19)

Seal at the Mountain Winery (Photo: Kevin Keating)
As we had hoped for last year, the multi award-winning, Seal, returned to the Mountain Winery in Saratoga last night and continued his annual tradition of performing at practically the best time of the season. Under a clear night sky and with the cool breeze blowing down from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Seal along with show opener, singer-songwriter Devon Werkheiser, couldn't have picked a better night to perform. Devon alone took the stage promptly at 7:30 with only his acoustic guitar, and his boyhood charm and soothing vocals easily won over the crowd during his 30-minute set. He humbly mentioned throughout his performance at how lucky he was to be opening for his boyhood idol at such a beautiful venue.

The crowd continued to file into their seats up until the very start of Seal's set at 8:30, of which, he kicked off with two brand new and unreleased tracks: "AIKIN" (All I Know is Now), and "The Morning After" for which Seal teased 'they'll be released soon' while also commenting how the industry has changed and that he wasn't exactly sure how they'd be released. The two were classic Seal, and his vocals sounded as strong as they ever have - this year backed by a 3-piece band consisting of guitarist, drummer, and a bass & keyboard player.
Seal at the Mountain Winery (Photo: Kevin Keating)
In years past, Seal would tell anecdotes between nearly every song, although this year, he kept the stories relatively sparse throughout the performance and simply focused on the music. However, early on in the set, he stressed how he didn't necessarily consider that he was performing for us, but rather with us, and talked about the circular energy that swirls between the stage and audience. That energy may have been relatively low during those first two tracks as we all listened intently hearing those songs for the very first time. But once he launched into "Dreaming in Metaphors", you could see the symbiotic relationship between audience and performer change tenor dramatically. "Dreaming..." was followed-up by "Fast Changes", both of which debuted on Seal's second album back in 1994.
Seal at the Mountain Winery (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The next block of 3 songs were straight from his debut 1991 release back and included two of my favorites, "Deep Water" and "Whirlpool" -- both of which sounded absolutely stunning. On "Deep Water", Seal opened the song belting out the first verse with just his acoustic guitar and soaring vocals that enveloped all of us in the bowl. The sound only intensified when the full band joined mid-way through. The rarely performed, "Show Me", was a welcome addition to the setlist and showcased Seal's dynamic vocal range with the band adding subtle accents such as the punchy bass line and chime-like guitar strumming.

He jumped back to his second album with the next bunch of songs, "Prayer for the Dying" and the crowd favorite, "Kiss from a Rose" which sandwiched "Love's Divine" a track from his fourth album released in 2003. During a poignant moment before "Prayer", Seal reminisced about 3 near-death experiences that occurred to him earlier in his career, and shared his belief that once we die, we never really go away but continue to surround the people we love.
Seal in the crowd at the Mountain Winery (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Having worked his way through some of his top hits, Seal chose to share another unreleased song with us called "Person in the Mirror" before kicking back into high gear with his very first single, "Killer" which immediately ramped back up the energy level. In fact, "Killer" was the second song in which Seal ventured off the stage to come out and sing and dance with the audience -- and not just with those in the first few rows, but all the way back 3 sections deep from the stage! Seal followed up with "Amazing" --  the same sentiment that we all felt after seeing Seal wade through the adoring crowd, and he then closed the set with "Crazy".
Seal at the Mountain Winery (Photo: Kevin Keating)
For his encore, Seal performed a single number that he described as a tribute to one of his heroes, David Bowie. And while introducing the song, circled back to his earlier story about death, explaining that it was his belief that those who have departed are still with us -- surrounding us no matter where we are. The closing "Rebel, Rebel" got the crowd back on their feet and we all sang and danced as the night came to an end.
Seal at the Mountain Winery (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Let's again hope that between now and next summer, we'll see a new release from Seal, and of course another visit to the Mountain Winery in about a year's time! Thanks for reading and be sure to follow us across our social feeds for more pictures, concert announcements and news here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Seal Setlist The Mountain Winery, Saratoga, CA, USA 2019

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