Jessie J - Manchester Academy

Jessie J starts her first major headline tour with a Brit Award already in the bag along with the title of the BBC's Sound Of 2011. In just a couple of months she's gone from playing Manchester's premier sweatbox - the Night & Day - to filling the 1500 capacity Academy. Is the hype justified? Sure. The thing about Jessie that is immediately apparent is that she owns the stage from the moment she sets her pink heels on it and launches into 'Mama Knows Best', coming across as supremely confident. She has good reason to be - her voice is an agile, effortless and powerful thing, possibly better here than on record and she's got stage presence and personality to burn. Charming and self-effacing between songs, prowling the stage during them.


Jessie J

Much of her debut album gets an airing tonight, with early highlight 'Abracadabra' finding her accidentally missing an entire verse - not a problem - she simply performs the missing section a capella when it's done, making it look far too easy. It all keeps coming back to that voice, which is all power, clarity and the occasional Aguillera-a-like bout of vocal gymanstics. When the lights go down and she lets it take centre stage on the mid-set acoustic number 'White Room', which finds Jessie picked out by a single spotlight you realise that for all the glitz on stage, none of it would work without her greatest asset.

Jessie J

But it's the high tempo numbers that get the most reaction, and she's at her best on the likes of the stomping diss, 'Who's Lauging Now', and when she's engaging the audience with the call & response of 'Nobody's Perfect'.

Jessie J


She saves the singles for last, making the encore a powerful one-two punch. 'Do It Like A Dude' starts a capella, before erupting in a thud of ground shaking bass alongside a thousand voices and leads to a sudden and virulent outbreak of skanking at the back of the room. Even this is as nothing compared to the reception that 'Pricetag' gets - it's one of those perfect pop songs with a chorus that just demands to be belted out, and the audience duly oblige.

Jessie J

In recent years, the Academy has seen early performances from the ascendant Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, and you can add this to show to the same "I was there when..." list - you'll never see Jessie J in this small a room again. When she jokes between songs about a mis-spelt tattoo it's not clear if she's kidding ("It's my own fault, I had it done in Essex") but one thing there can be no doubt about - this is a performance which has pop star written all over it.

Jessie J


Jessie J

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