JESSIE J RETURNS TO MANCHESTER TO PLAY A VERY SPECIAL INTIMATE SHOW AT THE ALBERT HALL
PICTURE BY: BRIAN ZIFF
The atmospheric Albert Hall, built as a Methodist central hall with its Baroque and Gothic interior, was the perfect backdrop for Jessie J’s intimate, stripped-back return to Manchester after two and a half years of absence on a chilly Mancunian Monday evening.
Never having seen her live in action and not being familiar with her recent material, I didn’t know what to expect, thinking her show would be kick off with a poppy banger, but instead she opened her show with a slow, dialled-down rendition of ‘Who You Are’. Right away it was clear that she was here to wow the audience with raw emotion and honesty – and of course with her powerful vocals. Not at all what I thought I’d see – but in no way disappointing.
She continued changing up her tracks. Her normally fast, upbeat track ‘Domino’, she turned it into a sensual, slow-lovemaking type version, laden with smooth vocals from her and her incredibly talented backing singers. I never thought ‘Domino’ could be so sexual, even if it was a bit of a shame not to be able to sing and dance along like I thought I would be.
As this intimate tour came about to introduce her upcoming album R.O.S.E (realisations, obsessions, sex, empowerment), it came to no surprise that her newer material came early in her set. ‘Real Deal’, ‘Not My Ex’ and ‘Think About That’ clearly mark a departure from her typical music of power-pop tracks; now her changing up of those normally poppy numbers at the beginning of her set that wowed and surprised me so much suddenly made a lot more sense, because this new Jessie J is more soulful, and clearly inspired by old-school R&B and hip-hop.
But at the same time, in between each track, her peppy, unfiltered, sassy self came through. Letting the audience in on her recent trials and tribulations, sharing the pains she had to overcome, she also played her favourite game of “Spot the Plus 1”, correctly guessing the people in the audience who hasn’t necessarily chosen to come of their own volition – making them feel hilariously awkward.
Halfway through the set, she covered the powerful ‘Earth Song’ by late King of Pop Michael Jackson – a brave choice, but perfect for times like these that are filled with news of natural catastrophes, terror attacks and wars.
For the 2nd half of her concert, Jessie finally set off the fireworks her fans love her for: banger after banger got the audience singing and dancing. ‘Mamma Knows Best’ [my personal favourite] and ‘Bang Bang’, which featured an amazing rap by one of her backing singers to take Nicki Minaj’s stead, were followed by classics ‘Price Tag’ and ‘Do it Like A Dude’. Finally songs I could sing along to!
But it wouldn’t be the new Jessie J she was there to introduce the audience to if she didn’t finish the show with another emotional reprise of ‘Who You Are’ --- reminding everyone that “it’s ok not to be ok”. What a phenomenally powerful end to an emotional show. So not what I expected, BUT ABSOLUTELY LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT. And even my Plus 1, dragged along against his wishes, ended up loving her show – definitely not what I thought would happen!
JESSIE J'S TOUR CONTINUES:
Wed October 11th - LONDON KOKO
Thur October 12th - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Sat October 14th - COLOGNE Live Music Hall
Mon October 16th - AMSTERDAM Paradiso
Tue October 17th - BERLIN Huxleys
Mon October 23rd - TORONTO Mod Club
Tue October 24th - NEW YORK CITY Le Poisson Rogue
Wed October 25th - CHICAGO Bottom Lounge
Fri October 27th - WEST HOLLYWOOD Troubadour
Sat October 28th - SAN FRANCISCO Great American Music Hall
Fri December 1st - SHENZHEN U Stadium
REVIEW BY: MARIA HERCHENBACH