JESSIE WARE-Brixton Academy. 29th January 2015.



Writing about Jessie Ware is impossible at times because her live shows are at times, beyond words. I’ll treat this as less of a review and more of an appreciation of a career of this country’s finest singer.

Before I get into my take on the live show, just watch one of the first clips of Jessie to emerge:

A dream of her’s was to always play Brixton Academy, and for two nights she did it. Her voice is one that is constantly brilliant. There’s no way she could put on a bad show, ever. It would be impossible. There aren’t many that are consistently good. But I like to think the bands that I love and go see always are. That’s why I go see them, of course.

Just before Jessie stepped onto the stage, the PA blasted out More Than A Woman by Aaliyah. Being the sentimental fool that I am, I couldn’t help but feel she should be playing here too. Anywhere. It’s a loss you never really get over, you know. It’s never felt right, and it never will.

Jessie steps onto the stage as the intro to Running starts. He voice and presence causes an immediate frenzy. One person, just one person oozes infectious stage presence that some bands can’t muster. Her on stage talk is all over the place and full of swear words. This is why I love her. You can tell just by that massive smile on her face that playing Brixton means more to her than anyone else, it means more to her than any other venue would. It was a truly special show that was a long time coming.

After she performs 110%, the crowd went ballistic. I’ve never been at a show where this reaction happens, ever. Every song is performed in a way that makes you wish you had even an ounce of her talent. She’s undeniably the best singer around. She captures that 80s classy R&B sound that Sade gave us and mixed with something different, much like Aaliyah did. Her lyrics are vulnerable and honest. The way she brings them to life on stage is on a different level, almost like you can’t believe a voice like this exists.

For me, the most important moment of the set is her bringing back the gorgeous Taking In Water to her set. This song is definitely one of the highlights from her 2012 debut, Devotion. The song was written for her baby brother Alex, and when she performs this song you really do feel as if you are intruding on a personal moment between them. The song is so delicate and beautifully written, to see it again live is for me the best part of the show.

The set is the perfect mix of both records and with a couple of bonus tracks such as Valentine (she brings out her former drummer and current support Dornik to sing with her) and The Way We Are. You know what else would be an ideal Jessie show? If she did b-sides and tracks off the deluxe editions.

When you see a band/singer you love live, a part of you should always come away either wanting to be in that moment forever or wishing you could do it. Sometimes both. Maybe always both.

These two shows at Brixton just show how rare a talent like Jessie’s is, and how needed a voice like hers is. Everything about her music is approachable and so easy to relate to. From when she hits THAT note during Running and THAT certain part during Say You Love Me, plus much more, it is all evident as to why she has finally sold out Brixton. TWICE. She gives it her all, and so do her band. Her bassist (who I believe is a fellow Italian!) is a delight to watch, he really gets into it. As I was leaving the venue, I heard two people behind me slag the guy off by saying “The way he moves just makes him look like he’s full of himself, and he really has no need to be.” 1- He’s not. He moves like that because he evidently is having the time of his life up there and is blood good. And 2- Are you selling out two nights at Brixton? No love, you’re not. So you know, be quiet. Another group decided that Jessie shouldn’t have played The Way We Are. But there are idiots everywhere, even at shows.

Jessie’s got the voice of an angel and the mouth of a sailor. I don’t get how anyone could ignore such a talent and turn onto something else. She’s got soul in her words, music and voice. It doesn’t happen too often, remember that.




With the tube strikes being cancelled I was able to go see a band last night that I’ve been waiting to see for far too long. It seems of late I have fortunately been able to see bands/singers that really mean something to me after waiting for so long. My ability to plan and do things is sometimes questionable. However, if it is music related I am more than likely to be motivated to do something about it. Everything else can wait.

Of course when you are in the seated area of a venue you have the dilemma of “Do I stand or sit? Oh..they’re standing..I can’t see. I’m now standing. Oh we’re back to sitting, alright then!” A bit of light exercise for this fatty, right?

I like bands that are duos because there is something magical about them, but when a band has more than 5 members then I’m not sure what happens to my interest in them. Of course you have the likes of Wu Tang Clan who have a lot of members and they’re one of the greatest groups ever. And if I’m honest I really don’t care for Folk like bands. Over the PA Mumford & that lot was playing, and I felt a bit queasy. I can’t stand them or any band/singer like them, so why do I like Edward Sharpe? That’s easy- because their songs have a lot of meaning, they make you feel alive and make you forget all the bad you have done and all the bad that has been done to you. I can’t say the same for the band I mentioned above (not Wu Tang, obviously!) With Edward Sharpe you get something else. You get the feeling that you are part of something. My girlfriend did turn to me a few times during and questioned if they were a cult. I think she was convinced we were going to leave the show and now be part of some cult. There are worse things to happen. If you’re going to end up in a cult, it might as well be with the love of your life by your side, right?

The setlist was beautiful. Alex asked the crowd what they wanted to hear and we got the delights of Jade, Life Is Hard and Up From Below. Their cover of Nina Simone’s Ain’t Got No was exceptional. It was a real highlight of the show and really made you glad to be alive. During one of the songs (I’m writing this 2 days after, my memory isn’t too great) Alex handed the mic to a girl in the crowd who had this voice that was unworldly. If I was in the band, I’d have asked her to join. Her brief solo caused the whole place to just be taken back and give her the greatest reception I’ve seen in a long time from a crowd. I hope someone tracks her down and gives her a record deal. If any of her pals see this, or if she does- let it be known she has a gorgeous voice that needs to be heard. Jade and Alex’s vocals are on a different planet. Jade has this way of making you think “Where the hell did that voice come from??!!” and Alex just grips you with the power he has in his voice. They chase each other around the stage in a playful and adoring manner. Alex ends up in the crowd during the middle of their first song.  This isn’t just a band; they are truly a family unit.

I could write thousands of words about how Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros are pretty much one of the best bands around and the most exciting bands to see live, but I think it is obvious they are. You really don’t need someone like me telling you that. I can only hope the crowd at their show last night at Shepherd’s Bush got the same feeling. When you listen to their music you immediately feel as if someone is giving you a great big hug. When you see them live, you just feel as if everything shit in the world no longer matters. It shouldn’t matter, but at times it does. Live music is a healer. Trust no one who doesn’t believe in the power of music.

I’m going to try rounding this up by attempting to sum up the feelings this show gave me. As I was watching the band, I was just in awe of how extremely talented they all are. Of course I knew this as I’m a fan, but to see it live is just something else. Their music is that constant feeling of falling in love over and over. You feel as if you could die and it wouldn’t matter because you’d be listening to this beautiful music that just soothes you. On the other hand, their music makes you feel really REALLY alive and you feel as if nothing in this world can touch you. They make you feel part of something truly special, and that goes beyond words. Sure I like music that is the polar opposite of me- aggressive, loud and bold but sometimes I just want to hear something like Edward Sharpe and feel something I haven’t felt before. And what I felt will stay with me for as long as my memory will allow.