Time moves quickly in the music industry of 2013―just earlier this year, R&B up-and-comer Jessie Ware sprang to stardom from the undersized stage of downtown NYC’s Bowery Ballroom; last night, she danced gracefully in-and-out of the spotlight at Midtown’s Irving Plaza. When comparing the cross-sections next to one another, the two Manhattan stints show their differences. In the former, Ware was a well-kept secret on the lips of those listening closely, but by Monday, everything had come full-circle.
Jessie Ware Began as a Backup Singer; Her Voice Propelled Her to Centerstage in New York City
Jessie Ware is still the same lovable stage presence that fans fell in love with early in her career, only now she embraces the attention with pop star swagger. All those months ago at the Bowery, Jessie teared-up mid-set, as she took in the unrelenting adoration. Now, she’s returned to New York a veteran of the road.
The grand stage of Irving Plaza awaited, though not without some untested ground. The venue, promoted by Live Nation, sports a Klipsch sound system, VIP balconies, and at long last, a captive mainstream audience. It all came together as a mix of new and old fans, including the very first Jessie Ware fan―her mother.
The crowd jostled in from dimly lit watering holes, finding shelter from the sudden cold in the sounds of opener Mikky Ekko. He blew through a 30 minute set, ending his run with Jessie’s tour. Now, he’s bound for pop star collaborations and choruses.
When Ware finally took the stage, it was like seeing an old friend. She seemed the same, but when you looked closely, the growth proved apparent. The same sleek white letters proclaiming “Jessie Ware” emblazon the black backdrop, yet the band playing in front of it is something quite new. The rhythms were tight, the guitar licks, seasoned. Jessie strutted out to a mellowed-out version of “No To Love.”
Early success speeds everything up, but after months of touring, Ware and her backing band adjusted to slow things down. In between songs, Ware still the displays the warm and humorous chatter that’s made her such a fan-favorite. She gushed over a story of being overcome with nerves at the prospect of meeting David Beckham, and constantly thanked fans for their support.
“I know there are a lot of new fans here tonight, but I just want to thank all the old fans for supporting me along the way.” – Jessie Ware
Ware flexed the sheer muscle of her voice, as it reverberated amid the spiraling waves of fog; the crowd was completely honed in on her every word. Listening to her belt out the powerful vocals of “Night Light” really showed why she’s achieved so much success in the first place―she has the strength of Adele, and the grace of Whitney Houston, but the surrounding instrumentation is what sets Ware apart.
She takes risks with production, and with her debut LP Devotion, she’s put a new spin on traditional R&B. Tracks like “Swan Song” and “Sweet Talk” (which she dedicated to Beckham) jitter with electronic rhythms that recall the collaborations with Sbtrkt and Disclosure that skyrocketed her upwards. Jessie even mixed in some house music, citing British producer Julio Bashmore as she fiddled with a drum machine on a new song.
Ware began as a backup singer, but her voice propelled her to center-stage. While she initially dealt with the sudden adoration a tad sheepishly, she’s now fully embraced the spotlight. No doubt, she’s gained many fans from her breakout hit “Wildest Moments,” but for those that have witnessed her take shape, it’s been a rewarding journey.
Jessie displayed typical modesty by reluctantly taking an encore, something she didn’t do at the aforesaid Bowery Ballroom gig. “I’m only doing them for this tour and that’s it,” she promised, as she trotted back to the stage, but it was hard to believe her; now that Jessie Ware has arrived, it’s hard to imagine her anywhere else.
Article by Nicolas White