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Hotly-tipped since 2016 as a major R&B star in the making, Jorja Smith has finally started to make a big impact of late. Her debut album launched into the UK charts at #3 in June, and even managed to garner a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Prize. And last Sunday evening, I was fortunate enough to score tickets to see her perform her first headline show in Nottingham.
Famed for her powerful, clear voice, her vocals were just as intoxicatingly beautiful in person. A number of songs I hadn't liked when I heard them on the album - most notably 'Goodbyes' and 'Lifeboats (Freestyle)' - had new life breathed into them live on stage. What made these two numbers stand out was that they brought a certain intensity and purposefulness in Jorja. And that was something that the show was lacking in places. 'Lost & Found' and 'February 3rd' featured near the start of the show and demonstrated her flawless falsetto. But as a performer, these numbers came across as lacking in passion. In a more intimate setting, perhaps I would've been better able to connect with her.
Now that's not to discredit this show entirely, because it seems to be a skill Jorja will be able to pick up in time. 'On My Own' had us wailing in the crowd along to its anthemic tune, and 'Teenage Fantasy' was a glorious throwback R&B moment. But two songs stood out as real moments in the show. 'Blue Lights', a startling frank take on the misuse of Stop and Search laws against young black men, absolutely blew me away. But one of the penultimate numbers, album closer 'Don't Watch Me Cry', hooked me in with Jorja's sense of quiet connection to the crowd.
She's not quite got it all together yet, but Jorja Smith's first headline tour showcased her in full voice and the potential to absolutely rip the audience's hearts out in the nicest possible way. And not to mention that she had some pretty stylish merch on offer. So if Jorja's otherworldly vocal talents aren't enough to tempt you into seeing her live, there's always an opportunity to beef up your wardrobe - although I'd definitely recommend the former instead.