The Junction, Wednesday 6 March 2013
Jessie Ware released her Mercury-nominated debut album Devotion back in August. Last night, fresh from two Brit nominations, she kicked off her UK tour in Cambridge, supported by newcomer Laura Mvula.
Mvula‘s voice, a soulful mezzo, sounds as fabulous live as it does on her debut album Sing to the Moon, released earlier this week. Her band brought her songs to life with their rich harmonies, most effective in ‘Like the Morning Dew’ and ‘She’. Mvula initially came across as reserved, but warmed up throughout her set. She ended strongly with the sassy ‘That’s Alright’. We’re sure to see a lot more of her soon.
Then on came Jessie. Her irreverent personality shone through from the moment she stepped on stage, looking slightly bemused by the audience’s excited response. She opened with her album’s title track, ‘Devotion’, an understated, soulful number. Jessie’s voice is one that has to be heard live to be fully appreciated. She’s able to switch from silky smooth tones to perfectly pitched power vocals effortlessly. It’s hard to pick a highlight, but there’s no doubt that the soaring melody of ‘Taking in Water’ showcased her impeccable vocals perfectly. The Junction venue was an ideal size – large enough to take her voice, but small enough to retain intimacy.
She conversed entertainingly with the audience throughout, apologising for her frequent swearing and at one point getting the giggles mid-song as an audience member blurted out ‘nothing’ in response to her line ‘what is wrong with me?’ The combination of her faultless vocals and unpretentious charm resulted in a hugely enjoyable set. The end came all too soon, but as she admitted herself, a first album contains a limited number of songs. To be honest, though, I would’ve been happy to sit through the whole thing all over again.