Jessie J has been out of the spotlight for quite some time now. She attributes it to not really feeling her last couple of albums. She hadn’t been writing as much and needed to rediscover who she was. “I’m grateful I found myself,” she told the audience. “I had to disappear for a little bit. My relationship with music was like being in a bad relationship. Forgive my absence.”
Last night at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco all were quick to forgive for a chance to finally witness the real Jessie J. We all knew she had the pipes, the charm, and the biting wit, but this time her fans saw a more mature and self-reflected version of her.
And so it came as a bit of a surprise that she kicked off the night with an almost acapella version of “Who You Are,” entering stage right looking more somber than her usual perky self, bathed in some dramatic dark lighting as the band sat in anticipation. You could tell at that moment, and moving forward, that it wasn’t going to be the bubblegum pop starlet that’s we’ve all grown accustomed to. Just like a snake needs to shed its skin, there was a new and improved Jessie J.
As the night progressed, it grew in its magic, became unforgettable and will go down as one of the most intimate the venue has seen. The highlight for me was her performance of “Flashlight,” where at one point she got a little aggressive with the audience. “Don’t raise your phones,” she said. “I want to see your eyes. You’re enough light for me.”
It was a beautiful moment and one that she quickly apologized for and blamed on her passionate personality. Last night it was clear what she was passionate about. Music. Except that this time around, it’s going to be on her own terms.
Photos by Louis Raphael