Smith, however, was more than game for the mob scene. Before beginning her set, the singer casually stepped outside the gallery and addressed the mass of fans unable to get in. “I can’t get inside,” she joked. “There’s too many people. You don’t have to see me, because I’m not that beautiful, but you’ll be able to hear me. We have a really good sound system.”
Smith then descended the gallery’s steps and waded into the sea of people filling Berners Street, shaking hands and striking up conversations. From afar, she was the spitting image of a glad-handing politician; up close, with her signature ratty hair, rumpled attire, scratchy voice, and modest words, she was anything but. “When I’m done in there, I’ll come out here and sing a cappella,” she promised one group of fans, adding, “But you have to do it too, or I’ll be embarrassed.”
At one point, Smith was approached by a journalist, who asked her why she’d chosen to venture into the throngs outside. “I was so happy to see so many people interested in Robert’s work,” the singer said. “So I came outside to say hello.” The journalist then asked her something partly inaudible, having to do with famous people. Smith gave her a wry look. “I’m just glad so many people showed up. I’ll let you know if I see anyone famous.”
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