Jessie Ware at Varsity Theater, 11/10/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo By Mark Kartarik

Jessie Ware
With the Invisible
Varsity Theater, Minneapolis
November 10, 2013

"It doesn't feel like a Sunday anymore," exclaimed Jessie Ware one song in to her debut Minneapolis performance at the Varsity Theater. The London singer/songwriter warmed up the room and got the receptive crowd swaying to her sultry, intoxicating songs, while injecting enough of her effervescent personality into the hour long set to leave us all charmed and wanting more.

During such a brief performance as this one, if an artist takes too long to hit their stride, much of the show is already lost and any kind of momentum proves hard to capture. But Ware, dressed resplendently in a black tuxedo jacket, sauntered out after her three-piece band set the grooves of opener "No to Love" and was on point vocally and charismatically straight from the start. She even worked in fragments of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" seamlessly into the opening number, which only reinforced the wistful, desire-fueled sentiments of her original song.

Ware appeared to be genuinely taken aback by the warm response she received from the crowd, and thanked us profusely throughout the show. After a smooth, pulsating rendition of "Still Love Me" kept the strong start going, Ware said, "God, you're really loud. I like it like this. Keep it up, Minneapolis." And what the audience may have lacked in numbers (the house was sadly only a little over half-full) they more than made up for in volume, with each intoxicating number greeted with a boisterous, encouraging ovation.

Photos By Mark Kartarik

A rhythmic and seductive take on "Night Light" found the Varsity shrouded in near darkness, which only added to the allure of the track. Ware further connected with the crowd by talking about her acoustic in-store performance earlier that afternoon, "We did the Electric Fetus thing earlier today. It's such a nice record store. But we've got to carry on, don't we?" The well-paced set then continued with an enticing run through of "110%," which got the crowd moving, though Ware noticed that something was holding some fans back.

"I'm going to take your coat, because it's shit that you have to hold it the entire show," she offered to one fan up front, before asking if anyone else had a coat she could check for them. She graciously ended up taking 10-15 coats from her fans and placing them sidestage, allowing them to enjoy the show unencumbered. It was definitely a sweet moment, and further ingratiated Ware with her adoring audience.

An intoxicating take on "Sweet Talk" only strengthened that bond, with Ware explaining that "this is going to be like a Diana Ross concert and you're all going to be friends by the end of it." And during the song's smooth breakdown at the end, she effortlessly got the entire audience swaying in time to the groove, two-stepping along with her as the band brought the beguiling track home. Usually, you have to heartily encourage a Minnesota crowd to dance, but Ware coaxed us all into it easily, proving just how much the audience was under her spell.

The stage was again darkened for a moody, brooding take on "Devotion," the title-track to Ware's Mercury Prize nominated debut album, with the track soaring in the small club. She went on to thank all of her fans who have traveled to see her for this show and others on her tour, before introducing the next number by warmly saying, "This is a song about my little brother." An impassioned, anguished version of "Taking In Water" followed, with Ware keeping her eyes closed as she poured herself into her vocals. The track contained echoes of Bone Thugs N Harmony's "1st Of Tha Month" with the "Wake up" vocals of the backing band adding to the genuine, unvarnished sentiments of the stirring track.

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