REVIEW: Jessie Ware O2 Academy 8/10 by Simon Butler
UNIVERSAL praise from music critics and being lauded as the Next Big Thing can, I imagine, put you under enormous pressure to deliver the goods.
The hype, it would seem, certainly has more substance than style in the case of Jessie Ware.
Showing no signs of newcomer's nerves, Ware effortlessly showcased her debut album Devotion to a capacity Academy with a slick and confident performance. Against a stark backdrop, a three-piece band complemented her soulful voice, while she exuded the type of class associated with industry veterans such as Sade.
The already receptive audience, mainly 20-somethings, were completely won over within the first couple of tracks, with songs which may not have set the charts alight, but have been on heavy radio rotation for the past six months. The lack of hit singles won't be important to Ware, however; she's obviously in this for the long run and encouraging sales of her album are a good indication that she will be around for a few years yet.
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Understandably, better known tracks, Wildest Moments, If You're Never Gonna Move and a cover of the much sampled What You Won't Do For Love were among the best received of the night.
Surprisingly and refreshingly, in contrast to someone whose public persona is that of an ice cool songstress, the banter came thick and fast. There was a mention of the first award she had ever won, Sky Arts Best Pop, which had happened earlier that day, and the fact that she couldn't dance in her dress as it was too tight. Bristol connections were also noted, from enjoying visiting her brother when he was here at university to recalling how some of the tracks from her album were written with producer and Knowle resident Julio Bashmore.
Just over an hour later and the evening had ended all too soon as her debut single Running, one of her more upbeat compositions, rounded off the proceedings.
After spending years honing her craft working as a backing singer, Jessie Ware's smooth transition to the upper echelons of British pop currently occupied by the likes of Emile Sande is surely imminent.