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Review: Jessie Ware brings restrained, refined class and cool to the State Theatre in St. Petersburg



These days, our pop stars are flashy tongue-waggers. Our braggadocious R&B hitmakers leave little to the imagination. And our dance music chart-busters pack punch but lack substance.

And then there's Jessie Ware, a rising British pop/R&B/dance artist whose subtle, refined style brought a breath of fresh air to State Theatre Wednesday night.

Dressed in an all-black pantsuit and backed by a three-piece band, Ware served up tasteful, hopeful tunes to a moderately-sized St. Pete crowd.

Considering Ware has close ties to some of Britain's biggest names -- soul-pop divas Adele and Florence Welch among them -- you'd think she'd be out to belt with the best of them. But during her 90-minute set, Ware never reached for the back of the house. It was all about warm, sexy civility -- a quiet storm of slinky synth-pop, you might say.

Night Light, off of her Mercury Prize-nominated full-length Devotion, was downtempo but danceable. Bobby Caldwell cover What You Won't Do for Love was done beautifully a cappella. Goosebumps-inducing Wildest Moments was an airy uplifter and Running (the non-Disclosure version) recalled a cross between Sade and Solange Knowles. It's a track that, in all its elegance, hopefully isn't doomed for Acura commercials.

Between songs, Ware was the humble, kind girl-next-door type.

She shouted out folks on dates, asked about the differences between Disney World and Disney Land and expressed uncertainty about the "Squirrel Man" (a staple of the St. Pete waterfront) who she had seen during a walk to the Pier earlier in the day.

Maybe the masses like their divas a little loud, a little flashy and a little crazy. But we're rooting for a little refinement in 2013. We're rooting for Jessie Ware.

-- Carole Liparoto, tbt*

[Last modified: Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:36pm]


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