Jorja Smith at the LCR - Review
When it comes to success stories, there isn't anyone making waves in British music like Jorja Smith, from YouTube covers at 15 to a sold out tour at 21, Smith has made her mark on the nation. Following her sensational debut album Lost & Found Jorja is set to embark on a sprawling UK tour, with Norwich's LCR as the first stop, a perfectly intimate venue for her personal sound. And despite religiously listening to the album on repeat the past few weeks to perfect my high notes, I don't think anybody in the room was ready for what her lungs put out.
Opening the night, the enchanting Mina Rose took stage, performing tracks off of her London's Burning EP with a bouncy energy that definitely picked up everyone's mood after the arduous queue to get into the sold-out venue. The highlight from her set came at the end with 'When I Was With You' a dancey and upbeat track that sounds like a mix between Kali Uchis and Katy B, combining the best elements of both to create a song that will no doubt be in my playlist for months to come. Her electric energy spread around the packed room as the crowd started jumping along with Mina and her DJ, getting everyone sufficiently tired out for Jorja's mellow and calming sound.
There's always something so exciting about the buzz in the air when the band starts to walk out to the first track and tonight was no different as the infectious, jazzy beat for 'Lost & Found' began to play, causing a ripple of noise in the crowd. There's not much I can say about Jorja Smith's voice that hasn't already been said but as soon as she started singing the relaxed chorus I know it was going to be a special evening. From here she went straight into one of her break out hits of 2017 'Teenage Fantasy', a song that is so relatable that Smith barely had to use the microphone, as the crowd hit (and missed) every note for her. Jumping from her debut album to some of her older tracks as her set went on, she provided a nice change of pace for those more familiar with her and after almost every song, the room flooded with blue lights teasing us with her breakout single 'Blue Lights', a cruel joke that only paid off towards the end of her set.
One of the standouts of the evening came with Smith's performance of the hip-hop inspired 'Lifeboats (Freestyle)' turning the laid back bop into a spoken-word jazz piece. Smith's delivery was much more akin to a poet as she spat the fiery verses at the crowd with little to no reciprocation, as most of us couldn't keep up with her delivery. This then spiralled into a jazzy jam session as her fantastic backing band took the Tom Misch beat to grand proportions turning every bit of instrumentation up to 11, the highlight being her incredible drummer, embodying Neil Peart at a moments notice. From here the whole set changed as she broke out of the cycle of performing songs from her debut album and transitioned into a cover of Rhianna's 'Man Down' and later incorporating the chorus Lauryn Hill's 'Ex Factor' into her set. As with her own songs, she completely smashed these covers and made them her own whilst seamlessly incorporating them into her songs. After the fun and bouncy middle chunk of her set we moved into some of her more intimate and emotional ballads like the tear jerking 'Goodbyes' or 'Don't Watch Me Cry'. While I wouldn't say it 'ruined' these songs by any means, the crowds enthusiasm for singing also translated into them being overly chatty during these somber moments. I felt like a substitute teacher, too scared to tell the children to be quiet, as they loudly blabbered over Jorja's more tender and acoustic songs, taking away from their potency.
After teasing us all night, Smith closed her main set with the incredible 'Blue Lights' which was just as spectacular as I could've imagined as the bright blue lights slowly transitioned to red as the song progressed, flashing like police sirens at the climax of the song. For the encore she came back out and treated us to the tragic 'Let Me Down' and the energetic 'On My Mind' which provided an unexpected moment of excitement to close out the evening as I never expected to see gun fingers at Jorja Smith gig. Then that was it, it was over and everyone left the LCR in collective high spirits as we reaslised we had seen one of the best artists the UK can currently offer, a performance that won't likely be matched for some time.