JMSN Tattoo, Toronto ON, May 8
Published May 09, 2015Frontman of a power-pop band; major label producer and songwriter; background vocalist on Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city. Detroit native JMSN — whose real name is Christian Berishaj — has worn a lot of different hats throughout his career, but as a solo artist making deeply personal and evocative R&B, he's finally found the one that fits best.
Listening to last year's self-titled The Blue Album (released on his label White Room Records), you might think the songs would lose their intimacy in a live setting, but his headlining set at Tattoo proved the opposite. Backed by a bassist and a drummer, Berishaj (who closely resembles Jim Caviezel in The Passion of the Christ) was front-and-centre, bathed in blue and pink lights, gripping the microphone like a Rat Pack crooner.
Occasionally breaking out the guitar himself for several songs, including Blue Album slow-burner "Street Sweeper" (which received a remix featuring Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs), the singer had the packed venue swooning and swaying in equal measure.
While he's done soul-influenced collaborations with rising beatmakers including Kaytranada, Sango and Ta-Ku, the highlight of his 45-minute set, "Addicted," proves Berishaj could make a full-blown pop record à la Justin Timberlake if he desired. He's already got the required showmanship down; as his band wound down the last song, "Love And Pain," he left the stage as the crowd chanted, running back onstage shirtless and beaming.