Emerging UK pop singer Jessie Ware made her Philadelphia debut at Union Transfer Friday night. Writer and photographer Grace Dickinson of JUMP Philly was there covering the scene, which included Ware taking a moment during the show to reminisce about her first visit to Philly – singing backup for Jack Penate during his World Cafe session. Grace reports:
After playing with The Roots earlier in the week on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, soul-singer Jessie Ware hopped from NYC to Philadelphia for a performance at Union Transfer. Opening with Devotion, Ware sang nearly her entire EP, If You’re Never Gonna Move, along with a few other tracks from her UK released album, also titled Devotion, to be released in the states this April.
The Friday night show drew a fairly packed crowd, though was the only one not to sell out on her U.S. tour. It was the South Londoner’s first time headlining as a solo artist here but Ware let the audience know it wasn’t her first Philadelphia performance.
“When I decided to be a singer, I quit my 9-5 job and became a back-up singer,” explained Ware, referencing her former days touring with English musician Jack Peñate. “My first stop was Philadelphia and we did World Café. It’s been very romantic for me to be back here tonight.”
Ware made a visit back to World Café earlier in the afternoon for a session with David Dye, this time performing songs off of her own record.
Prior to her solo debut, Ware also acted as a back-up singer for Joker, along with SBTRKT (Aaron Jerome). For SBTRKT, Ware eventually ended up singing lead on the British producer’s 2010 single “Nervous,” a single that led Ware to her own label deal with PMR.
The 28-year-old is frequently compared to the likes of other powerful, female UK soloists popular in the states, like Adele and Sade. She definitely has that same soulful feel, akin also to English vocalist Joss Stone, though with a dubstep influence likely linked to her days with SBTRKT.
It’s the dubstep bassline that got the crowd moving on Friday night, with Ware dancing too, and referencing how happy she was to be there in between each song. Despite rather rapid success back in the UK, it’s clear Ware is still humble as ever.
As fans projected shout-outs and tributes towards the stage, Ware took a moment at one point to do some complimenting of her own. She let the crowd know she found them to be “very polite and so very sweet”, and acknowledged that this time in her life has been such a “wonderful and wild adventure”.
Before closing out the night with her album’s primary single, “Running,” Ware also acknowledged opener Rochelle Jordan, a singer/songwriter from Toronto. She too had a soulful voice that leans a bit more towards R&B. Jordan is also just rising up in the music world, getting a small shout out from Drake on his track “Club Paradise,” and positive reviews from her second LP, PRESSURE, released in August of 2012. Jordan will make a few more stops with Ware as she finishes out her U.S. tour this month.