On Thursday night, I excitedly headed down to the Bowery Ballroom to finally see Jessie Ware live. If you’ve been keeping up with Hard Candy over the years, you’ll have seen us sing her praises on many occasions. The debut album ‘Devotion’ is a work of art, and still receives weekly plays many months after it’s release, so as you can imagine I was eager to see her perform.
When she arrived on stage shortly after 10 pm, the crowd went absolutely insane, to the point where she was visibly moved by the loving reception. It was the kind of welcome you would expect for an artist who has been beloved for many years, but Jessie had only released her first EP, the fantastic ‘If You’re Never Gone Move‘ stateside a few days prior to the show. “Wow, tonight’s gonna be a lot of fun,” she remarked before launching into a phenomenal rendition of ‘Devotion’ backed by her three-piece band.
Ware really delivers in a live setting, her voice is simply flawless and she radiates soulfulness with everything in her being. Her songs are given a whole new dimension with the live instrumentation, particularly the guitars. Elements that are subtle on the studio recordings really came to life and delivered a brand new experience for songs like ‘Night Light’ and ‘Devotion’ that I’ve loved since first listen.
One of the highlights of the evening was when during ‘No To Love‘ she worked in a portion of ‘I Want You,‘ one of my favorite Marvin Gaye songs (listen here.) She handled the cover with such confidence and finesse, I’m now dying for a studio version of it.
Not only is she ridiculously talented, she also very witty and knows how to have a good time with the audience. She was clearly having the time of her life on stage, laughing and joking with us all night long. She chatted about inviting Lena Dunham to the show, dedicated ‘Sweet Talk’ to Kim and Kanye, and there was a particularly sweet moment after the beautiful ‘Taking In Water’ when one eager fan in the front row produced a bouquet of flowers for her. She bent down, grabbed the guy’s hand and asked his name, then had a little chat with him, I think I even saw her wipe away a tear at one point… she was clearly humbled and feeling the love! It had been her dream to play Bowery Ballroom and she thanked us for making it so special.
“I knew you Americans would get it” she remarked towards the end of the night, those of us in that room certainly did, and I have faith that with talent like hers and a quickly growing devoted fanbase, she’s in line for a lot of well deserved success in the U.S.
Still Love Me
If You Love Me (Brownstone cover)
Taking In Water
What You Won’t Do For Love
No To Love
I also had the pleasure of seeing her perform the night before the Bowery Ballroom at the ‘MTV Artists To Watch’ event at the Highline Ballroom. She delivered a short but sweet acoustic set including ‘Running,’ ‘What You Won’t Do For Love,’ and ‘Wildest Moments,’ backed only by her guitar player. Her vocals were outstanding and it was a real treat to witness such a fabulous acoustic set. Here’s a short clip and I’ll update with the videos from MTV when they surface.