She might not quite yet be able to command the same kind of Price Tag as a certain caterwauling Voice judge. But there’s little doubt following the second date of her brief UK tour that there’s only one Jessie in British pop that’s currently worth paying attention to.
Indeed, Jessie Ware‘s first appearance at one of Manchester’s most historic venues only further highlights how much more soulful, classier and ultimately intriguing a prospect she is than her fellow Londoner. None more so than on earthy power ballad, “Wildest Moments,” [LISTEN] which on the surface sounds like the kind of faux-motivational anthem that her namesake is so fond of, but in fact relates to a hot-and-cold friendship that brings out the best and worst in both parties:
You and I, bloodline
We come together every time
Two wrongs, no rights
We lose ourselves at night
From the outside, from the outside
Everyone must be wondering why we try
The gorgeous “Taking In Water” also sees her decide to converse with a loved one in song form, its delay-drenched gospel-pop providing the backdrop to a heartfelt tete-a-tete with a younger brother she admits she’s often too hard on. But the 28-year-old is just as compelling when the subject matter embraces the sensuality of her luxurious tones.
“Night Light” channels Whitney Houston’s late 80s era as she surrenders herself fully to the man of her dreams; the Guru-esque jazz-rap of “No To Love” sees her berate herself for doing the exact opposite; whilst drummer Dornik Leigh turns out to be more than an adequate substitute for soulman Sampha on a duet of the short but bittersweet lullaby, “Valentine:”
So will you never be my lover or my valentine
Never be a friend of mine, never see my better side
Maybe you’d be terrified of all the secrets
You were wishing you won’t ever find is deep inside me
Ably supported by the bewitching Laura Mvula, whose avant-garde jazz-pop sound translates far better on stage than it does on record, Ware deserves to have the sell-out crowd eating out of the palm of her hand, performing nearly the entirety of her Mercury Prize nominee Devotion whilst accompanied by a tight three-piece band who provide a beefier edge to its stunning blend of Quiet Storm, neon-lit funk and seductive dub-pop.
But sadly, even the eye-catching black cape and super-sized heels combo she sports doesn’t put a stop to the constant off-putting audience chatter that only really relents on two occasions.
Confessing to the slightly unhealthy hold that a constantly wavering lover possesses, the slinky percussion and yacht-rock guitar solo of “Running” [LISTEN] prove the Sade comparisons certainly aren’t without merit. But it’s a voice from beyond the grave that elicits the most fervent response of the night as the late Big Pun’s booming ‘carving my initials on your forehead’ sample kickstarts the unsuccessful attempt to lure a prospective partner onto the dancefloor that is 110%:
Won’t dance, not without you
Small steps, they lead only to your heart
You keep me wishing in the dark
What’s wrong, you cannot lose
My eyes only see to your heart
Opting out of the whole encore process, there’s a slight disappointment in the air when Ware finishes her set in less than sixty minutes. But judging by the new Julio Bashmore-produced track, which has echoes of both Michael and Janet Jackson’s glorious 80s output, it shouldn’t be too long before she has the quantity to match the quality.