Lewis Capaldi: The Artist for Sad, Single People

Associate Arts Editor Lainey Gregory and Arts Reporter Sofia Hrycyszyn cover Lewis Capaldi’s Chicago show on his “Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent” tour.


Lainey Gregory

In a simple white T-shirt and black jeans, [Lewis Capaldi] leaned into the audience, his hair seemingly blowing in the breeze.

By Lainey Gregory and Sofia Hrycyszyn

Upbeat electronic notes rang through the Aragon Ballroom, marking the start of Lewis Capaldi’s April 19th show. Capaldi’s band took their places beneath flashing lights as the intro to his highly anticipated album and namesake of his tour, Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent, blasted through the venue. “CHICAGO” flashed on the screen above the stage for several beats followed by “LEWIS CAPALDI.” As the singer’s name appeared, so did the star himself, grabbing a microphone and diving into his hit “Forget Me.” In a simple white T-shirt and black jeans, he leaned into the audience, his hair seemingly blowing in the breeze. “Forget Me” speaks to the feeling of taking comfort in knowing that your ex isn’t quite over you yet, either. Every so often, the singer paused, holding out the microphone to let the crowd take over for their favorite parts. Such omissions in Capaldi’s singing highlighted the strength and clarity of his vocals, which reverberated with the heartbreak and pain behind most of his songs.

“Congrats on the weirdest fucking venue ever, Chicago,” Capaldi quipped in a jarring Scottish accent—the extent of his accent is masked when he sings. He looked out at the mythical towers of the Aragon’s balcony and the stars of the Milky Way projected onto the ceiling. “Ever seen Aladdin? I feel like I’m an acrobat,” he laughed. “Now, I don’t do it for the money, Chi-ca-go,” he said. He paused, “I do it for the fame and the ladies.” Met with laughs, he shook his head, “Not true. I do it for the love of it.”

Before moving into his next song, Capaldi put his finger to his lips and shushed the audience. The crowd generally quieted, but someone shouted “I love you, Lewis!” The singer smiled and replied, “I love you too.” At the second cheer, he frowned and said, “Shut up,” but the excited audience refused to stay silent. Giving up, Capaldi shouted, “On that note, this one’s for my dead aunt!”

“Before You Go” showcased the performer’s cutting vocals. The verses repeatedly started deep and resonant, building and opening up for a chorus in which Capaldi’s voice and emotion rolled off the stage and into the audience. While “Before You Go” often strikes listeners as expressing the complex feelings of anger and guilt felt when dumped, the song was actually inspired by the effect Capaldi’s aunt’s suicide had on his family. Capaldi’s work deals with the pain of love, both in romantic and familial relationships, and his voice lends itself to communicating those emotions. Even though his songs are mostly heart-wrenching, his readiness to joke around and his clear joy at being on stage made for a show that was more uplifting than painful.

Moving to a piano center stage, Capaldi played the first chord of “Bruises.” Melancholy and slow with heartbreaking lyrics, the song is the epitome of what Capaldi called one of his many songs for “sad, single people.” Capaldi has Tourette’s, and for the most part, he played artfully through his tics, occasionally allowing the audience to take over for a phrase before jumping back in. With “Bruises,” though, he had to take a pause from singing, redirecting the audience’s attention by joking, “Don’t mind the cough. It’s a Tourette’s thing.” He leaned forward and over-enunciated each syllable. “I have a dis-a-bil-li-té.”

Once Capaldi finished “Bruises” and moved into “Wish You the Best,” another heart wrenching piece that explores the struggle to hold back all the thoughts and feelings one wants to share with a loved one after a breakup. For his last song before his encore, Capaldi transitioned into “Hold Me While You Wait.” The lyrics detail Capaldi’s experience with uncertainty within his own relationships. The crowd loudly belted out the verses with him, clearly relating to the song’s message. After the song, Capaldi thanked everyone for coming to the show and headed backstage. The audience remained in high spirits, chanting “one more song,” eager for Capaldi to come back onstage.

A crew member came back onstage and took the microphone for an announcement. He said that Capaldi couldn’t make it back on stage because he had to take care of his health, but added that he wanted the crowd to sing every word of “Someone You Loved.” Everyone was clearly disappointed that Capaldi was not able to perform his most popular song, but also shared the understanding that the singer’s health should be prioritized. The music started, and the audience sang along to the melancholy tune. It was not only a heartwarming moment but an opportunity for “sad, single people” to come together for an artist that supported many of us during our sad, single moments.