Jessie Ware at Varsity Theater, 11/10/13
|Photos By Mark Kartarik|
"I wasn't going to do this because many of you heard it earlier," Ware explained, again referring to her in-store performance at the Fetus. "But fuck it, we're just going to do it. It's by Bobby Caldwell." A stripped-down take on "What You Won't Do For Love" followed, with Jessie singing along to her guitarist's muted accompaniment. She even handled a call of "Marry me!" from someone in the crowd by smoothly working in a response of "I'm taken, sorry" into the song. "Imagine It Was Us" had a decidedly "Rock With You"-like beat to it, with Ware leading a clubby, dub-step breakdown at the end which blossomed into fragments of Julio Bashmore's "Battle For Middle You," giving us a different side of Ware's sound and influences.
Dave Okumu, from openers the Invisible, helped Ware write and produced much of Devotion, and Jessie brought him out at the end of the set to play guitar on a glorious run through of "Wildest Moments" that proved to be a clear standout of the set. "I want to see everyone up for this next one," Ware instructed. "Everyone in those fancy tables there, get on up." And with the entire audience on their feet, Ware brought the main set to a rousing finish with "Running," before thanking the crowd for making her first show in Minneapolis a special one as she was off with a wave.
After a brief encore break, the band (including Okumu) quickly returned, with Ware paying tribute to the Minneapolis sound by covering Martika's "Love, Thy Will Be Done," which was co-written by Prince himself. It was a brilliant moment, with Ware giving a knowing nod to the musical history of this city while also sharing a song that has obviously helped shape her sound over the years. The all-too-brief set ended with a new song from Jessie, "True Believers," which proves that this talented artist has plenty more to say in the future, and those of us she captivated with this spellbinding performance will certainly be right there listening to whatever she comes up with next.
Personal Bias: While I enjoy Devotion quite a bit, those songs really take on a new life in a live setting.
The Crowd: A cross section of many divergent music fans in the Twin Cities, proving that Ware's music has a broad, cross-genre appeal.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I want her sense of style so bad."
Random Notebook Dump: While this was Ware's first headlining performance in Minneapolis with her own band, she has technically performed here before as a singer in Jack Peñate's band.
No To Love/I Want You (Marvin Gaye)
Still Love Me
Taking In Water
What You Won't Do For Love (Bobby Caldwell)
Imagine It Was Us/Battle For Middle You (Julio Bashmore)
Love, Thy Will Be Done (Martika/Prince)