A great performance doesn’t need to bring Jesus on stage or have the largest light show. It just needs a star. From the moment Jessie Ware walks onto the stage Monday night at The Fillmore she is radiant. When she admits to the crowd that she’s “a nice Jewish girl” and says “L’chaim!” fans return a smile and cheers as though they’re reuniting with an old friend. It’s this personableness that makes Ware’s show irresistible (we know, see, see and see), coupled with her raw talent that it makes it special.
Admittedly, Ware’s vocals are restrained on Devotion, her debut album that was released last August. In an interview with The Bay Bridged she explained:
I wanted it to be a subtle, restrained way of singing. I know I can sing really belty, but I don’t think everyone always wants to hear that. If you’re listening to an album, whether you would be on the tube or you’re driving; I don’t want people to turn (the volume on) me down.
This is apparent live. Like neo soul singers Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Tina Turner, all influences and often comparisons for Ware, she will extend her notes and range straying from the subdued tone of her recorded verses. Late into the set, she performs Bobby Caldwells “Do For Love” supported only by her guitarist. Her smooth vocals front and center are unwavering, lofty and yet restrained in a Quiet-Storm-coolness. The moment the bass drops for “Wildest Moment” the crowd forgets the oncoming workweek, erupting in swaying excitement.
Throughout the performance, Ware walks across the stage seemingly in disbelief with the excitement exuding from the crowd, as though mentally trying to capture the moments in hopes of later looking back and thinking to herself “I was pretty good, wasn’t I!” Yes, Jessie Ware you are.
-Photographs by Fabian Molina