Sade performs at the Yas Arena, Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

When Sade suggested she rename the capital on Friday night, she met no resistance from the audience at Yas Arena.

"You know my name is Sade Adu," said the Nigerian-British lead singer of the band that bears her name, "and for tonight I'd like to rename this town Adu Dhabi."

The loud cheers that greeted this statement reverberated throughout the concert, as Sade seamlessly wove the old and the new from their 30-year oeuvre, updating some of their classics with a heavier, more modern beat.

With her trademark scarlet lips and big hoop earrings, Sade opened the show with a rock-infused, guitar-heavy Soldier of Love, building on the military vibe of sirens over a thunderstorm created in the intro.

She then saluted the crowd. "This is a huge, huge night for us, as a band," she said. "It's a bittersweet night: There's a bitter aftertaste as this is the last night of our world tour, but there's also a sweet, sweet taste, as we're spending with you in Abu Dhabi.

"We'll save the tears for tomorrow; tonight, let's just have a good time."

And that's just what she did, taking her band and the audience with her on an unforgettable journey.

Her respect for and gratitude towards her audience was touching, and returned in equal measure. She'd occasionally blow one a kiss here, a smile or a wink there.

‘Love is king'

"Thank you for keeping the flame alive. You know something, your love is king," she said, launching into one of her biggest hits.

The soul seductress was as alluring as ever as she played to the intimate crowd, sashaying on the sax solo to Skin, belting out the big notes on Kiss of Life and Jezebel, sitting down for the inspirational In Another Time before Bring Me Home picked up the pace and The Safest Place slowed things down. The crowd joined her, singing along to every word of Smooth Operator and Is it a Crime?

Adding to the relaxed jazz vibe, Sade changed into an easy white dress and went barefoot as she sang Morning Bird, King of Sorrow, Sweetest Taboo and other songs for almost two hours.

The backdrop took on blue hues for The Moon and the Sky, and a big moon framed her for Pearls before she went all out for No Ordinary Love.

After this performance, that's exactly what Adu Dhabi feels for Sade.