One of my favorite albums of 2017 was one I stumbled upon by total chance. I was scrolling through Apple Music one day and saw a familiar name in the new releases section: Jessie Ware.
I had heard and loved a couple songs by Jessie Ware over the years (“If You’re Never Gonna Move,” “Wildest Moments”). I knew she had co-written Ed Sheeran’s “Dive” and was featured on Nicki Minaj’s last album, but I never took the time to make the deep dive into her catalog.
I decided to give her new album, “Glasshouse,” a listen, and I was obsessed from the first song. It was intimate and emboldened, yet had ethereal qualities. She had written it while pregnant and just after the birth of her daughter. The songs all felt personal.
Jessie Ware stopped in Philadelphia May 11 on one of the last stops for her “Glasshouse Tour” in North America. Performing at the Theater of the Living Arts, Ware dazzled with her vocal ability and witty banter.
The show was opened by Albin Lee Meldau. Meldau is a Swedish singer-songwriter who is releasing his debut album next month. The most striking thing about his set was his rich vocals. Looking at him you wouldn’t expect such a powerful, soulful voice to come out. His music is a soul folk mixture and worked really well setting the vibe for Jessie Ware.
It had been five years since Ware had played a show in Philadelphia. Back in 2013, she had also played at the Theater of the Living Arts promoting her album “Devotion.” It was clear that many dedicated fans were at this show, and had been eagerly awaiting her return.
Jessie Ware opened her set with the emotional ballad that closes “Glasshouse,” “Sam.” It’s not the high energy start that most artists would go for, but it set a different tone for the audience. It immediately established an intimate atmosphere and showcased Ware’s soothing voice.
After “Sam” she picked up the tempo with “Your Domino,” the danciest track off “Glasshouse.” This switch-up demonstrated the genre range that Jessie Ware likes to play around with.
Ware was very conversational during the show and I don’t mean that she simply talked at the audience in between songs. She actually talked with the audience in between songs. She fielded questions and responded to drunken exclamations. It was charming and something I had never experienced at a show this size.
During one chat she talked about her daughter. Since she has been on tour she hasn’t gotten to see her, but was excited to be seeing her very soon as this was the end of her North American trek. She then sang “Thinking About You” which she explained had been written about her daughter.
The energy from the audience was excited and loving. Ware commented on how loud the crowd was and how well they knew the songs. A group of friends announced that they had flown in from Miami. Though the show wasn’t sold out, the room still felt full of energy from a dedicated fanbase.
During dinner before the show at El Vez, Ware was approached by a waiter whose favorite album of 2013 had been her debut album “Devotion.” She was very touched by this interaction, and sang a song especially for him even though he was not in attendance.
She performed her cover of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love,” which was the waiter’s favorite. A friend of the waiter who was in the audience announced that he had sent a video to him.
Jessie Ware was accompanied by a five-piece band. One was an auxiliary percussionist who really put that extra finesse on tracks like “Midnight” and “Selfish Love.” All of them were very talented and wearing matching sleek black jumpsuits.
The show ended with Jessie Ware’s breakthrough single “Wildest Moments.” It was the perfect sing along track to close the show.
If you haven’t listened to Jessie Ware before, I would recommend giving her a listen. Her songs are expertly crafted, and her voice is incredible. If you are a fan, know that her live show is equally as incredible as the music. I would strongly recommend the experience of seeing her in person.