Jessie Ware's classy voice is the backbone of her strong debut album Devotion, but her music might be better suited for smaller, more intimate venues.
Jessie Ware's solo debut album Devotion was among PopMatters' year end best-of lists in 2012 and rightfully earned a 9/10 here. The dynamic range of Ware's vocal cords imbues her songs with a variety of emotions, from yearning to seduction to power On stage at Irving Plaza for her second show in New York City of the week, one of her many in 2013 (more shows than she had done in London this year she said), Ware demonstrated her humor and her powerful voice for the fawning crowd. The space closest to the stage was packed tight with fans not willing to give an inch. Ware's fans are truly devoted; she gave a shout out to one girl named Gabby who was planning to wear a printed t-shirt featuring a photo of herself with the singer in the shot. Then, at the end, Ware received flowers from other adoring fans. However, Ware's show didn't leave much of an impression on me as a result of the venue size and the sound mix.
For the majority of the evening, the performance came off tempered and truncated. It didn't help that Ware has limited material to draw from (though she included one cover) so her set itself was less than an hour long. As her song's rely mostly on her voice, a more intimate, possibly seated, venue would have been a better venue place to catch her live. A smaller showcase would have been beneficial to her presence especially when considering that hardly any of her music could be considered "dancey". Ware did introduce a brief dance segment and people began to movie their bodies, but that lasted from approximately 9:40 to 9:47 when it abruptly ended. It seemed like this could have been a warm up but it was nearing the end. After that came two of her biggest songs, "Wildest Moments" and "Running", her other major hit "Night Light" was in the first three songs of the night, and all could have used a better mix to highlight her singing especially "Running" as it was the closer. "Wildest Moments" is such an impassioned song that I could have heard it three times that night and not been satisfied.
Ware was entertaining between songs, talking about seeing David Beckham the night before and dedicating a song to the footballer. She also postured for the photographers and joked that the front row would be rid of them after the third song. But Ware knows its about her voice, which is why she started the first song from off in the wings of the stage, so her siren's call could draw everyone's attention to the front, before she finally walked on. Despite disliking the setup on her current tour, getting any chance to hear her sing makes going out worthwhile.