Sultry, slick R&B from hugely talented Mercury nominee...
Dancing in the aisles, a standing ovation and an impromptu slow set moment from one loved-up couple - yep, it's fair to say Jessie Ware's first ever gig is going pretty well.
Having only released her debut album Devotion in August, the Londoner visited these shores the following month for an Arthur's Day performance, but tonight marks the official start of her first ever solo tour. A nerve-wracking prospect? Hells yes. But as Jessie timidly joins her band onstage, the crowd's deafening cheer quickly helps her relax, before she launches into sultry album title track, 'Devotion'.
'Thank you so much!' she squeals, clearly moved by the crowd's rapturous applause; 'So this is what it's like when people actually pay to see you!' Humble, sweet and utterly likeable, Jessie is the (very cool) girl-next-door as she giggles when her mic cuts out, yet absolute stadium-filling minxy diva when she starts to sing. 'Sade by way of J-Lo' as wordsmith wonderwoman Celina Murphy put it when reviewing Devotion (5 stars, might I add) Jessie's voice is effortlessly flawless; reminiscent at times of many of her influences - Whitney, Chaka and Aaliyah to name but a few - but a standalone gem in its own right too.
And those pipes are perfectly complemented by Devotion. The good folks at Mercury may have confirmed what we already knew (it's awesome) but in a live setting, the album's 11 tracks come alive in absolute goosepimply glory. There's slick electro groove 'Dancing On My Own', which sees fans break out their best moves on the makeshift dancefloor, tear-to-the-eye epic lovesong 'Taking In Water', the funky (and most Sade-like moment on the album) 'Sweet Talk' and the anthemic, feelgood 'Wildest Moments' - which prompted the aforementioned slow set. Need we say more?
There's just one non-album track on the night, and her '90s-tastic choice makes us love Jessie even more. 'Sing along if you know the words', she encourages, and hits us with 1994 R&B hit 'If You Love Me' by Brownstone. (If you owned a Now compilation on cassette and reckoned you should have been the fourth member of TLC, you'll remember this bad boy.) And all too soon, it's over. But as fans gather round her for autographs and pictures on the way out of the venue, we have a feeling we'll be seeing Jessie Ware again soon, though most likely - and most deservedly - in a way bigger venue.
A contender for gig of the year.
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