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Review: Jessie Ware at South Side Music Hall

Posted 11:14am on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013

Jessie Ware just kept connecting.

Early on, a male fan handed her a bouquet of flowers from the front row and wished her a happy belated birthday.

Near the end of her hour-long set, a female fan, whose sister died in the past month, elicited a very visible reaction from Ware as she dedicated her hit, Wildest Moments, to the late sister’s memory.

The full spectrum of human emotion — joy and sadness — somehow crammed into 60 minutes, and Ware held it all together.

In between her interactions, the 29-year-old Ware, who launched her month-long U.S. tour and made her North Texas debut before a couple hundred people Thursday at South Side Music Hall, was intermittently stunning, rendering her intoxicating songs with a verve befitting a veteran.

As it was, the evening was thoroughly entertaining, toggling between moody, soul-infused pop songs and sprightly chatter, and had the show been booked in the cozier Loft around the corner, would have been an instant classic.

Instead, the audience had to settle for merely phenomenal.

Many of the problems were beyond Ware’s immediate control. She battled opening night technical glitches — her microphone squealed with feedback a few times; the sound mix was atrocious on the first couple songs; her band missed some cues — but did so in disarming fashion, displaying a charisma wonderfully at odds with the brooding music she makes.

Her set pulled heavily from her 2012 debut, Devotion, and the record’s sophisticated, stylish sensuality translated well.

Live, there’s more air in songs like If You’re Never Gonna Move, Swan Song and Night Light, and Ware dissolving into the giggles (as she did a few times) dissipates the mood a bit.

Nevertheless, the vocalist, clad all in black and backed by a trio of musicians, shook off her jet lag and left a mark.

The crowd may have been woefully small, but Ware’s talents, should they take hold in America, are such that, her next trip through town, she’s likely to be bonding with a much larger room.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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