Kicking off her new Tough Love tour, Jessie Ware finds herself in front of an Edinburgh crowd that are simply too excited to be witnessing her in the intimate Queen’s Hall to be too concerned with her level of performance.
Walking onstage in a plain, slim-cut black suit and with an expression of despair, fans would be forgiven for thinking she is burdened with regret and sadness. However, her mood seems to change drastically after singing the opening notes of “Running”. Setting the tone for the rest of the evening with long, high notes, Ware whets the crowd’s appetite. With a smile on her face and a spring in her step, she goes on, amalgamating her two albums and producing a set-list made up of her most popular and favourite tracks.
Following opener “Running”, arguably her biggest song from her debut album Devotion, the 30-year old South Londoner turns to her more recent material. With her four-piece band, she swiftly progresses through her set, from “Champagne Kisses”, to the flagship song “Tough Love”, taken from the new album.
Throughout the performance, Ware comes off as incredibly kind and considerate. Despite recent reproaches of arrogance, and claims that she performs with an over-inflated ego, she appears to be humble, never missing an opportunity to interact with the crowd, be it through blowing kisses to those in the front row or telling stories about her somewhat comical climb of Arthur’s Seat. These interactions with the crowd really amplify her extravagant South London persona. Always ready to sing the praises of her beloved town of Brixton and profess her love of pop-up markets, she is undeniably proud of her roots. This might be perceived as arrogance, but in reality, it is simply a soulful singer expressing what actually inspires her deeply emotive songs.
After an emotional rendition of “Night Light” and “Taking In Water”, Ware returns to material from her latest record. She asks the crowd, “Who’s on a date tonight?”, earning a few mutterings from concert-goers, and then “Who came with their friends?”. A much louder cheer obviously goes up, prompting her to retort, “this song isn’t for you then”, before playing “Kind of… Sometimes… Maybe”.
The energy and life she’s able to bring to such emotive songs is truly impressive. Her incredible vocals are definitely aided by the nature of the setting. Based in the heart of Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall holds a capacity of just 900, and so is the perfect intimate venue for any singer looking for that special connection. But, as well as suiting her singing style, it also complements Ware’s laidback persona, almost forcing her to interact with the crowd.
Ware’s friendly attitude is a stark contrast to the guise presented by the stage decorations and her album artwork. With long, black and white sheets draped around the edge of stage, and a very plain background canvas, the performance is solemn and desolate, mirroring the self-inspecting album. And yet, possibly due to the intimacy of this venue, Ware chooses to ignore the invented facade, instead deciding to perform with a permanent smile etched on her face.
As the concert draws to an end, Ware next turns to her most popular song, “Wildest Moments” and “You and I Forever.” And before praising her band and explaining her dislike for encores, she launches into her final track, “Say You Love Me”. Producing the loudest cheers of the night, the song epitomises Ware’s musical style: high notes, pure emotion and unbeatable vocals. With the crowd singing along, the evening ends with her poignant voice echoing around the small hall, inducing goose bumps for even the most sceptical audience member.
With a number of dates sold out, Jessie Ware’s tour continues around the UK before culminating in Europe, St Petersburg. Ware’s incredible vocals will go far and are completely deserving of the critical acclaim she will undoubtedly achieve.