English soul-influenced popstress Jess Glynne played the second of two sold-out shows at London’s Brixton Academy in support of her debut album I Laugh When I Cry, both 5,000-strong shows reassuringly sold out.
Bursting onto the scene in 2014 with hit single Right Here, following a collaboration with deep house producer Route 94 the previous year, she achieved further chart success from a collaboration with Cambridge-based electronic outfit Clean Bandit and eventually topped the UK charts with her following two singles, rounding out 2014 where I caught her last, on an all-star line-up at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire alongside Ellie Goulding, Bastille and Kodaline supporting homelessness charity Streets of London.
Short album track Strawberry Fields introduced the band to the stage before the 26-year star old walked out dressed in a 1970’s throwback double-breasted checked suit and cropped trousers, her signature fiery hair held back in a tight braid.
The stage burst to life for debut album track Ain’t Got Far to Go, a huge silver shimmering backdrop lit up beautifully from behind and in front with Glynne centre-stage, flanked by two backing singers with equally soulful voices.
She immediately had the crowd singing along from the opening tune before breaking into Clean Bandit collaboration track Real Love, the crowd’s screaming escalating and her soulful voice shining through the synth drums and keys, a firm staple of 1990’s dance anthems. “London are you ready?” she asked of a screaming crowd before launching into a short rendition of CeCe Peniston’s 1992 hit dance tune Finally.
“I know you know this song, so don’t be afraid to sing” she said of number one hit single and second Clean Bandit collaboration track Rather Be, handing over vocal duties to the crowd from the start, “louder”, she encouraged before altering the closing lines of the song to fit the show: “When I’m in London, there’s no place I’d rather be.”
Gave Me Something was the first of many occasions the three-piece brass section were brought out to bring an ever deeper dimension to the already assembled musicians on stage.
“How are you feeling?” she asked, to cheers from an adoring crowd. “Are you ready? Are you going to scream?” she asked as British rap sensation Tinie Tempah joined her on stage for an outing of their collaboration Not Letting Go, the volume of screams noticeably louder as the two navigated the Brixton stage.
A piano-driven rendition of My Love slowed down proceedings, Glynne requesting the entire Brixton audience turn their mobile phone lights on to illuminate the venue while the stage lights were dimmed, the crowd obliging before singing along to every word of the Route 94’s number one debut hit single.
An ode to idol Any Winehouse was next with Glynne breaking into a rendition of Back to Black single Tears Dry on Their Own. While not an easy cover to mix into any set, Glynne pulled it off well, her voice a perfect fit for the song’s style, her performance sincere and clearly from the heart of a true fan.
“Wow, I don’t go to the gym and I’m out of breath” she said at one point during the show. “It’s because I was dancing but I’m not a dancer” she continued, endearing herself to her fans as an every person.
Dedicated to Glynne’s friends, single Take Me Home was probably the highlight of the evening, the songstress’s raw, soulful voice, strongest on the slower I Laugh When I Cry cut, lifting the Brixton Academy audience to another level, every word sung-along by a good percentage of them.
The main set was closed out with No Rights No Wrongs and number one single Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself, the 26-year-old departing the stage briefly before returning for debut single Right Here and eventually closing out the night with a foil ticker-tape blow-out for hit single Hold My Hand.
From relative obscurity to five top ten singles, a number one album and two sold out shows at the highly coveted Brixton Academy within two years of a first release is no mean feat for anyone. And while her sound has obvious influences from the world of 1990’s dance, her wonderfully soulful voice is what is taking her places. It’s clear to see why her fans adore her, her peers want to work with her and why she will, no doubt, be commanding larger venues next time around.
Jess Glynne hits up the Birmingham Academy next before heading off to Europe for a series of dates. She’s back in the UK for a show at Manchester’s Apollo venue at the end of March.
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Live Review and Photography on 21st February 2016 by Kalpesh Patel who has more music photography up on his Flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate