Published Apr 07, 2013Jessie Ware is the real deal. It's taken North America a good eight months to realize it, but as the UK chanteuse prepares for the domestic release of her debut, Devotion, she's definitely getting the word out fast. Her first solo performance in Toronto also marked her Canadian debut, which she revealed was her most tweeted-about gig yet. At an intimate setting like the Opera House, it was pretty obvious that with all the buzz surrounding her over the past year, this was just an introduction, as she put it. When we see her next, expect a venue at least three times the size. Ware ensured that the gig was of the "up close and personal" kind, chatting with her fans, joking around and setting the mood to be loose yet classy. Beginning with the album's title track, Ware and her extremely tight and surprisingly pared down three-piece band managed to do justice to her silky-smooth R&B-infused pop. Her voice soars live, far beyond the studio recordings, and she had remarkable control, even managing to give up a laugh and maintain composure when fans backed her up on "110%."
Her humility is one of her strongest attributes, as she was constantly surprised whenever the crowd sang along, and admitted feeling pressured to satisfy one fan who came up from New York City for the show. During a cover of Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do For Love," she hesitated and laughingly sang out, "I've forgotten the fucking words now," as a fan distracted her. Diva she is not. She multi-tasked by working a sampler, posed for photos and gave mad props to her band regularly. She even invited her drummer, Dornik Leigh, to fill in for Sampha for a duet of "Valentine." Closing with her two biggest tunes, "Wildest Moments" and "Running," the only disappointment on the night was that Drake didn't make a surprise cameo when she began asking the Toronto crowd if any of us knew him. Though really, it's his loss. Yes, Jessie Ware is the real deal, but the best thing of all is that she's also having a laugh while proving it.