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.