After I wrote a preview of Sade’s Soldier of Love tour for Gambit Weekly, the band’s management told me they could not comp a ticket for me to cover the show. Tickets being mad expensive, I resigned to never seeing Sade. But then my luck changed dramatically…
Sade is the name of the band’s singer, but also the name of the band, and Stewart Matthewman has served as the band Sade’s guitarist and saxophonist, and written songs with its famous singer, since 1982. While not the band’s sexiest member, Matthewman is perhaps its most musically important.
I was very honored to meet him, but now, a decade later, my strongest memory of writing about him is how some Gambit editor inserted the word “unregular” into my article: “The band has remained the same since its inception, but its tours have become unregular.” Unregular is not a real word! I’d never typed that non-word in my life until my follow up complaint email to Gambit’s editors, none of whom fessed up to the crime. They did fix it online, but. That used to happen to me so much at Gambit, I started to suspect a plot. Unregular. Jesus Christ.
Anyway. Matthewman and I shared a good conversation about making music, and of course we discussed his band’s mysterious, elusive singer, who only deigns to make a record every 100 years. “Sade the person has a totally different concept of time. For Sade there is just no definite time that things will happen,” Matthewman told me. “I don’t know if it comes from her being African, but for her there are really only two times: sooner or later. Also, whatever she does, she does that thing 100 percent, so she doesn’t do music if there’s anything else going on in her life. And in order to write songs, she also has to live a bit, and have things happen to her, because she writes from the heart and from experience. In the last several years, she’s gotten settled into a new home, has new family around. So now, finally, this part of her life can be about music.”
I had to know what it was like to make music with motherfuckin Sade, so inquired about their shared artistic process. “Sade is a master of space,” he said. “In music and art and fashion and architecture, she doesn’t like big complicated things, so with music she is great at clearing stuff out. Like when I’ve laid down a bunch of guitar tracks, she comes and takes out everything but the best bits. She has an amazing ear.”
I hung up the phone and proceeded to be really bummed about missing Sade in concert. But then, on the day of the show, Gambit emailed and said two tickets waited for me at the Superdome! Not until I got to will call though, did I realize I’d be sitting on the floor, just a few rows from the stage! I think the tickets read “$380.” Apiece.
And I had an extra. Now, it’s sketchy for a journalist to accept such an expensive gift. Plenty of people stood outside the Dome looking for tickets, and I knew I could make a couple hundred dollars. I instantly met a nerdy Black dude wearing spectacles, who looked like he’d come straight from a very boring office job. He said he’d driven all the way from Mississippi at the last moment, to see if he could score a ticket to see his favorite artist. “Prince is my favorite of all time — Prince and Sade, both — and I was sitting at home thinking about how bad I felt after I missed Prince’s last show here in New Orleans, and so I jumped up off the couch and got in my car and drove as fast as I could. I couldn’t miss my other favorite artist, Sade…”
So, I sold him the ticket for $50.
This Sade nerd stranger turned out to be great company during the show. The concert was amazing, right up front, where I could watch the exact chords Matthewman’s hands played. As each smooth-ass song began, my new friend would lean over and tell me at least one trivia fact about that tune. Dude ended up being the perfect person with which to watch Sade.
NOTE: After every Superdome or Smoothie King Center concert, I buy a $10 t-shirt from the bootleggers outside the show. Sade, Van Halen, etc. all sell their official tour shirts for like $40, so I always try and support the local economy instead. My bootleg Sade t-shirt is still perhaps my favorite piece of clothing — not least of all because it draws many compliments from Black ladies.
Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal account (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.