Jessie Ware @ Lincoln Hall on 1.20.2013
Despite bone-chilling temperatures on Sunday night (1/20), Jessie Ware sold-out Lincoln Hall for her Chicago debut and delicately positioned the cherry on top of Tomorrow Never Knows 2013. Ware brought broad smiles to chapped lips and smooth steps to shrunken joints as she emerged from swaths of thick blue smoke to deliver "Devotion" as the opener to a set that made me question whether listening to her recordings again could ever do her stunning voice justice.
As conversational with the crowd as I have ever seen an artist, Ware delivered graceful banter and open storytelling with her endearing British accent and phrases (she described Lincoln Hall as "swish"). Ware told us about getting her nails done earlier that day, about how "Taking in Water," though oft overlooked, is one of her favorite songs to perform because it's about her little brother, and at one pause exclaimed, "There are so many blokes in here! Where are all my girls?"
This has certainly been an overwhelmingly exciting year for Ware, but she didn't hesitate to offer sincere details on the news we've been anxiously reading about her budding career. She apologized for the difficulty of accessing her music online--lamenting Devotion being taken off iTunes--and informed us that Questlove's fro smells like the loveliest of incenses. Caught up in nervous giggles during the first verse of "What You Won't Do For Love," Ware gives us hope that a genuine, grateful pop star can succeed in the cutthroat music business. The audience was more than willing to wait for her to compose herself; it almost made closing our eyes and mouthing the words more enjoyable.
Ware's band was as remarkable as the diva herself, providing exceedingly tight soul grooves and tearing through "Wildest Moments," "Running," "Sweet Talk," and "110%" with enviable precision. Ware's crew is a studied, fluid operation. Jessie Ware was humble, passionate, and one of the best live voices I've heard in a while. The faces of fans in the crowd gave me faith that she'll stick around; Ware can't resist keeping them smiling.
On An On, Mister Lies, and DJ Kriz Baronia opened the show, and a set of pictures from the night are in this post. More below...
On An On