Support tonight came in the form of jazzy Michael-Jackson-Frank-Ocean-esque Dornik. The incredibly talented singer actually used to play drums for Ware, but as she commented is now a ‘star’ in his own right… I really recommend his silky smooth voice and charming lyrics if you’re needing a little something to groove to whilst you do the washing up – give ‘Rebound‘ and ‘Something About You‘ a try.
After a small gap following Dornik, the lights dimmed once more and members of Ware’s band started filing on stage and the slow electronic melody of ‘Running‘, from her debut album Devotion, began and eventually Ware herself walked confidently to center stage. Wearing a simple chic black outfit, with her hair slicked back into a ponytail, and a pop of red lipstick, Jessie proved during her set that not only did she look the part, but acted it too. Ware set the precedent of the evening early on for stunning on-point vocals, and fans that were new to her live performance were clearly blown away by the strength of her voice, and the lack of backing or ‘studio trickery’. And regardless of the announcement that she was more nervous for this gig than the day of her wedding, her confidence was tangible as she strutted across the stage and was beaming for the entirety of the evening.
Smooth transitions was a feature of the evening with each song sliding with ease into the next, ‘Champagne Kisses‘ from the new album Tough Love came next, followed by the beautiful and powerful ‘Cruel‘. The stage design was simple and chic, with the cathedral type backdrop giving Ware a very ethereal vibe, which combined with incredible lighting only intensified the magic of the night.
Next up was another from first album Devotion, the remix friendly and club classic ‘110%‘ which set not only Ware but the whole crowd grooving. Halfway through the song Ware glanced up at the crowd and announced “this is going to be a great evening Brixton”… and she wasn’t wrong. It was clearly an emotional and monumental night, not only for fans but, for Ware herself. Ware reiterated numerous times how excited she was to be playing Brixton, that is a venue so close to her heart and actually just around the corner from where she was raised, and had many fond memories associated with the area. A beautiful version of ‘Taking in Water’ was dedicated to her brother which slowed the tempo of the evening down somewhat, and the poignant lyrics ‘I’m taking in water… for you’ brought home the personal touch that consistently runs through all of Jessie’s lyrics. The familial sentiment that ran through the entirety of Jessie’s set was heart-warming, and brought home the immensity of this five-thousand-person capacity and sell-out Brixton gig. To add even further to the charisma and charm of her set, towards the end of the night Ware called out her support act Dornik on stage to duet with her on a track titled ‘Valentine‘ (usually performed with Sampha).
Ware managed to weave in popular favourites and even ballad type tracks from both albums, with the set list appearing somewhat 60:40 of material from both her new album and the title of the tour ‘Tough Love’, and her stunning debut ‘Devotion’. Her latest single ‘You & I (Forever)‘ was up next, which she dedicated to her new ‘hubby’, which was followed by the powerful ‘Kind of… Sometimes… Maybe’ which pleased the crowd no end. It was clear that the entire audience was in awe of Jessie and the only boos that she received were when she announced that there would be no encore and her last track was near. Jessie finished on her beautiful ‘Say You Love Me‘, that came as a result of a collaboration with Ed Sheeran, which is also clearly one of her favourites. As she exited the stage with an enormous smile, looking ever so slightly teary-eyed the crowd erupted into manic cheering, whistling and cheering.
If you ever get the chance to see Jessie Ware live, then I highly recommend you do – she does not disappoint.