The last time Jessie Ware performed at The Danforth Music Hall, Meghan Markle was an actress on a popular network television show. She interviewed Ware for her now-defunct lifestyle blog The Tig, and as I recall, quite literally scurried out of The Danforth Music Hall with a friend, dressed in a white blazer. It was the second time that I had seen Jessie Ware on a particularly wet night, but it was all worth it for the sixty seconds that we spent squealing over the cuteness of our bulldogs.
While Toronto had similarly rainy weather, neither did Meghan Markle attend the show, nor did Jessie Ware and I compare wrinkles on English versus Frenchie bullies. But fortunately, as fondly as I remembered my last encounter with Jessie Ware, she recalled that night with a fan in the front row.
“You were a little cheeky, weren’t you?” she asked, only to discover that that fan had made their way backstage to hang out with her and to their luck, the future princess, thanks to Ware’s bandmate. Later on, she gave the mic to that same person, initially teasing them for only knowing the chorus to “Kind of…Sometimes…Maybe” but quickly took the mic back when they started to sing tremendously well, a cheeky glint in her eye.
Jessie Ware is one of those artists who have an ability to put their audience at ease through both the music and interactions. It’s because of her very authentic nature at every turn; before you know it, you’re in deep, hanging onto every lyrical anecdote and vocal riff like your life depended on it. When she pauses the show to profess her love for local talent Charlotte Day Wilson, your respect for her grows. Somehow, if I were to trust my life (at least emotionally) in an artist’s hands, I’d place my bets on Jessie Ware.
Over the years, she’s become even better at translating her own experiences in songwriting and vocal performances. That says a lot, considering the strength of her baseline – her 2012 debut album, Devotion. Even now, songs like “Running” and “Wildest Moments” still hold well with her audience. But there’s a significant, progressive contrast between her early days and the era of Glasshouse, her third album. You can appreciate where Jessie comes from, but her growth, laid out at its best during her show, is all the more impressive when you hear the vocal ranges that she presents for songs off of both Tough Love and her latest work, Glasshouse. The riffs on “Say You Love Me” remain some of the most punctuated across her discography, but “Midnight” and “Thinking About You” are a pair of dizzy, infectious spells.
It’s tempting to credit the roster of artists that have made their way to her work (Ed Sheeran, Cashmere Cat, Julia Michaels, Benny Blanco, Sam Smith, Romy Madley-Croft from The xx), and they’ve certainly played a role in crafting the 80s pop swirls and R&B deep-dives that underlie her sound. Tempting, but let’s be clear: Jessie Ware is one of the best vocalists out there, period, because she feels her stories every, single, time she’s on stage. If you get a chance to hear “Say You Love Me” live, take it. And let Ware speak for herself.