Jessie Ware is adorable. Plain and simple. But that conclusion is shades behind the hot, sensuous, and emotional Jessie Ware heard on Devotion, last year’s critically-acclaimed debut album from the South London singer/songwriter. On Wednesday, she visited El Rey Theatre to perform tracks from that album as well as from her latest EP, If You’re Never Gonna Move, and while she retained her in-studio demeanor during her live renditions, between songs she talked to the crowd as a spritely and giggly girl visiting Los Angeles with a passion for the city that was incredibly humbling.
Photos by David Fisch
And that’s really what made her concert so different from the others I’ve seen as of late. Artists come and go through this city and likely say their hello’s and goodbye’s, but Jessie lit up the stage with her presence and made herself known that Los Angeles evening, standing at the very front of the stage, steps ahead of her supporting band, and as much a part of the crowd as any of the sea of patrons in the sold-old venue. She expressed her love of the spontaneity and versatility of the city to a crowd that shares and understands that love, and she seemed as if she would have been happy to spend the entire show simply conversing with the audience.
But of course, when Jessie wasn’t chatting about her visit (including run-ins with Tyler the Creator and Ryan Gosling), she was performing her songs with as much enthusiasm as her in-studio counterpart. Opening with “Devotion” and moving around her studio album tracklist with “Still Love Me,” “Sweet Talk,” and my personal favorite “Wildest Moments,” her vocals expectedly glistened through the booming bass and searing guitar plucks. You didn’t need to be close enough to the stage to see the emotions on her face because you could hear them in the subtleties of her vocals from anywhere in the room.
Ware managed to get through all of her material without an encore, exclaiming at the end of her performance that she had simply “run out of songs,” though as far as I could tell she really wanted to stay on stage for as long as humanly possible. If she had had more songs to sing, she certainly would have.
Those of us in attendance for her performance can only picture great things for Jessie in the future. Whether at El Rey or another venue, she will undoubtedly return to LA with more material, more energy, and even more passion. She had us swooning to her songs and humbled by her giddy “devotion” to our city. She truly was is adorable.
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