LIVE: Jessie Ware – Mandela Hall, Belfast

JW1 JW3 JW5 JW8 JW9Fresh from a Radio 1 Live Lounge performance as well as a Brit nomination for Best British Female Solo artist, Jessie Ware was in Belfast for the first night of her extensive UK & Ireland tour.

With what must have been a near sold out show, the audience filled out the main floor as well as the balcony, patiently waiting for the London songstress to appear on stage. Before long the band assembled on stage and struck into a heavy synth intro. Under strobe lighting, Ware then appeared, dressed all in black, slowly walking to her point in the middle of the stage behind the microphone stand.

Striking straight into song, Ware kicked off with ‘Running’ from her new album, ‘Tough Love’. Without doubt Jessie Ware’s main strength and appeal is her voice. Often compared to the other big names of British female vocalists, Ware was on point throughout the night.

Another aspect of her appeal as an artist is the multitude of genres she crosses, mixing electronica vibes with her soulful voice and delivering it in to her audience in a subtle manner. This was exemplified by the track ‘If You’re Never Gonna Move’ from her first album, ‘Devotion’. Indeed this track demonstrates her past influences of American hip hop and dance.

Stopping briefly in the first half of the show to introduce herself and humorously complain about the wind machines playing havoc with her hair, her engagement with the audience was well received.

Ware then rattled through the majority of tracks from both albums, occasionally breaking out from behind the microphone stand to go visit the audience at either ends of the stage. Her slick, sexy style on stage matched the smooth unhurried tempo of the show.

However this also worked against Ware. Whilst it was obvious that the majority of the crowd were enjoying themselves; loud murmurs of conversation could be heard from the restless crowd.

In between tracks, Ware stopped to again talk to the audience and update them on goings on. Mentions of collaboration with Nicki Minaj and being on the Fifty Shades soundtrack generated loud cheers and once again Ware went back into the back catalogue of tracks.

Later, confessing to not being a fan of encores, Ware then drew the night to an end with fan favourites, ‘Say you Love Me’ and finally her biggest hit, ‘Wildest Moments’. Although the tracks were very well received by all and the audience went away happy, I couldn’t help but feel that the lack of an encore and its impact in bringing about anticipation of the finale again felt as if it worked against the performance in not bringing the night to a fitting end. Michael Chapman, GiggingNI.com