Monday, 18 March 2013

REVIEW: Jessie Ware @ O2 Academy Oxford - 11/3/13

*Originally published for the Oxford Mail (13/3/13)

It's a normal Monday evening in Oxford. The shops are shut, people have braved the start to the week and the bitter winds are keeping many at home. But there is a party going on at the O2 Academy Oxford, and soul popstress Jessie Ware is hosting.

Opening with the sparse but brash electronics of 'Devotion', the Mercury-nominated singer makes an impressive start to her headline set. Hitting the high notes like it's already the encore, Jessie's live persona smacks of professionalism and passion in equal measure and the audience is hooked just minutes in.

Crowd favourite 'If You're Never Gonna Move' (originally released as '110%') boasts Jessie's ability to effortlessly hop between harmonies. Her backing band help to provide it's skittish dubstep beats and bleeps, but it's a shame there isn't more interaction between them and the confident frontwoman.

Thankfully, a little further into the set, drummer Dornik Leigh steps in to duet on 'Valentine', a song that Jessie usually sings with Sampha (featured on SBTRKT's debut album). It adds some welcomed variety with soulful male vocals and snappy electronic drums.

Finding what she calls her "inner Chaka Khan", Jessie gets the crowd dancing to 'Imagine It With Us' like it's the 1980s. The relaxed hip-hop beats of 'Wildest Moments' foretell the set's close, but Jessie and her band still squeeze every bit of energy to power its grand chorus.

Following a huge applause, Jessie exclaims: "Wow, I thought with it being a Monday night you'd want to be in bed at a reasonable time!" And with that, the explosive 'Running' closes tonight's party at the O2 Academy. Fans might just feel that little bit closer to the weekend.

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