Jessie Ware

Jessie Ware


“Sorry if you thought you were coming to see Jessie J. She was here last night. I’ll try and put on a good show though” claims Jessie Ware. And she didn’t disappoint us– not at all.

Those of us who missed out on her intimate gig at the cathedral last year were treated to a second date as part of her 2015 tour – a clear sign of her growth in popularity as we stand here at a sold out Academy.

There was a time when I would have considered her style of pop-soul a bit of a guilty pleasure (you know, like Adele). I am fully out of the closest with Jessie whose unassuming, not trying too hard look and demeanor only makes her more cool (her 2011 collaboration with SBTKT, ‘Right Time’ was very cool indeed).

This evening is a mixed bag of her first album, Devotion and 2014’s Tough Love. She moves from soulful 80s sounds to contemporary pop; with her deep, effortless voice that, like her smile, doesn’t waver for the whole evening.

Monochrome backdrop and lighting, dressed in her simple black, she opens to the strumming bass-heavy, ‘Running’. She really belts out this track from her first album. The crowd are immediately buoyant and happily sing-along to the chorus. Second up is the more soulful ‘Champagne Kisses’, her high notes are studio perfect. And if her flawless, soulful voice doesn’t endear you to her enough, her chat certainly does – “I fucking love Manchester. My auntie lives here – I’ve been staying with her- she’s up there with her vodka tonic, everyone wave.”

Up next, ‘Tough Love’, the title track from the new album. It is perfection in my eyes. A simple melody with an isolated drumbeat and a striped back production. I’ve listened to it everyday for its sound and sentiment.

Reflection over, we plunge back into the 80s with ‘Night Light’. I can hear strains of Lisa Stansfield in this song. I’m pretty sure no one stood in my eye-line was even born in the 80s, but it gave me a bit of a nostalgic turn.

On balance, the tracks from her first album which sound more complex and soulful, work beautifully live. Their arrangements have so much depth and substance – 110%, ‘Sweet Talk’ and ‘Devotion’ are encapsulating and the band really work well with her. Her more poppy tunes from Tough Love like ‘The Way We Are’ and ‘All on You’ retain her excellent vocal and beat but are a little bit one dimensional and lack an edge as live songs. ‘Wildest Moments’ is by now eagerly anticipated as the audience cheer and we all sing-along. And finally: “This is my last song. I don’t do encores, I think they’re shit. ‘Say You love Me’ which, despite it being an earnest ballad, also becomes an uplifting, sing-along audience favourite.

Jessie Ware – hugely talented and credible British singer-songwriter. Girl crush.

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