Photo: Taylor Soppe
Every so often, Popscene and its patron saint Aaron Axelsen manage to snag a diva in the making. In past years we’ve seen everyone from Amy Winehouse to Florence Welch grace the small stage on their way to superstardom. After last night’s show, Jessie Ware looked no different.
There’s a certain presence exhibited by Popscene’s queens-to-be. The small stage area from that of 330 Ritch to Rickshaw Stop has a way of magnifying the smiles, the stage banter and the evident vocal power of talents like Ware, who crushed a sold-out venue with cuteness and charisma on Thursday. It’s safe to say that if Ware follows her projected career trajectory, she will never play a stage like Popscene’s ever again in what is likely to be a long and popular career.
The night was unlike any other in recent history. The star, whose rising name power immediately made tickets evaporate when they went on sale in November, caused the usually late Popscene crowd to show up as doors were opening. One indicator of the demand: marked up tickets on Craigslist were going for $50 a pop, more than three times face value. This crammed the venue for opener Rochelle Jordan, a songstress with hair that only left room on stage for one DJ-producer and no one else. After a short cameo, the Toronto-bred singer, who had supported the lead act through North America, deferred to Ware.
Entering just past 11, the singer from South London took a no-frills approach– aside from a gold-flecked halter top that shed glitter with her every movement. Shy but unafraid, Ware led with “Devotion,” off her only LP, as iProduct flashes lit up the stage (shoutout to the girl taking video with her iPad). She took time between songs to address the requisite “I love you’s” in her charming accent, before moving onto to “Still Love Me” and the shaking “110% (If You’re Never Gonna Move).”
For an artist who sold out LA’s 700 person-capacity El Rey Theatre, Ware looked at home playing to what was likely half that amount–with each and every person enraptured. Such is the power of a fresh face with a clean, unhindered voice, which came out loud and clear on “Taking Water,” a song for her younger brother, and a stripped down cover of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love.” Yet neither seemed to match the obvious climax of the night as Ware embarked on her beautifully crafted “Wildest Moments” before being presented with a bouquet of flowers for her troubles. Hardly able to contain a smile, Ware professed her love for San Francisco before crowdsourcing the most pressing question on her mind at midnight on a Thursday.
“I heard the Mission is nice. We’re going there for breakfast, where should we go? Mission Beach? Is there a beach near there?” she inquired without the slightest trace of irony.
A star in the making. Hardly a diva.
Still Love Me
110% (If You’re Never Gonna Move)
Sweet Talk (download)
What You Won’t Do For Love (download)
No To Love / I Want You