I spent my Valentine’s Day running through the rain with my Dad with newspapers on top of our heads for protection. Luckily, this was on the way to the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in London, to see the wonderful Jorja Smith in concert. My stress levels were at their maximum as my Dad had purchased the tickets from Viagogo (known for being notoriously unreliable), but fortunately luck was on our side as we strolled in through the O2 priority queue.
As we made our way to the first level we discovered the seats were unreserved, so managed to bag ourselves some fairly near the front of the balcony, about three rows in with a decent view. The venue was filled with mainly 18 – 25 year olds, although I could spot the odd 50 year old, so hopefully my Dad didn’t feel too out of place.
At eight, Jorja’s support artist came on stage, nineteen year old Mahalia (check out my previous spotlight article). As soon as you hear Mahalia’s smooth and sultry vocals, it’s clear to any Jorja Smith fan why she was the support artist. She brought the right kind of energy to the stage, dancing and chatting to the crowd, setting the perfect mood.
Jorja came out exactly on time at nine looking as gorgeous as ever. She started with ‘Something in The Way’ from her EP ‘Project 11’, an Amy Winehouse-esque dreamy song, in which by the time she reached the second verse, she had forgotten the lyrics. Luckily the audience hadn’t, and after apologising profusely, her nerves began to disappear and she continued better than before. The vibe for the first half of the concert was mellow and full of head bopping along to jazzy chords, with the occasional scream from fans in the crowd.
Jorja’s raw and truly angelic vocals came out when she chose to sing a song from her upcoming album. She introduced the song as one she wrote for a friend that had passed, called ‘Goodbyes’. What followed was a beautiful song, infused with heartfelt lyrics over an acoustic guitar ‘Cause you’re never coming back down, You belong to the stars in the clouds’. She continued after this with at least four new songs, each one as catchy as the next, leaving all her fans (and certainly me) aching for the album to come out sooner.
‘Carry Me Home’ was the most special song she performed in my opinion. It began with a poem from Thea Gajic, who came out to recite a live version. Then the band started to play quietly and Jorja’s voice glided effortlessly through the first verse and chorus. Suddenly from offstage, Maverick Sabre’s voice echoed around the walls and the song progressed from an already amazing emotion-filled track to a bluesey ballad. Jorja and Maverick’s voices harmonise together so beautifully, and the result was an effortless reinvention of an already beautiful song. It’s a song that you need close your eyes to and embrace, and I’m sure it could bring a tear to your eye.
A lovely cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Lost’ was next for Jorja, starting off acoustic and low key, and turning to a fast paced funked up version. This really changed the atmosphere of the crowd, and pumped them up for her next song, when the audience really went mad. ‘Blue Lights’, her breakthrough single followed, featuring samples from Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Sirens’. It’s an impressive song inspired by her upbringing, with her storytelling at its best. At this point, every person in the crowd is singing along (even my dad!) ‘You better run, when you hear the sirens coming’. ‘Teenage Fantasy’ came soon after, another fan favourite, and at this point Jorja was well and truly in her zone.
Her encore involved her newest song ‘Let Me Down’ (minus Stormzy), and to end the night on a high, of course ‘On My Mind’ is played. She started this off acoustically but then it progressed into the upbeat garage banger everyone knew and loved. At this point everyone was on their feet and Jorja was in her element, and she left the stage to a standing ovation.
Once again another act that I would say who is better live, as each track becomes open for reinterpretation. Her band really helped to bring out the best in her performance, adding beautiful piano and guitar solos in all the right places. I would definitely recommend seeing Jorja Smith live if you can, and luckily she’s playing more gigs in October, and will be in Birmingham on Saturday the 13th of October at the O2 academy. I’ve already bought my ticket, but this time I won’t be bringing my dad (even though he did enjoy the concert).