Jessie J, gig review: There is nothing about tonight that 'Ain't Been Done'

The former The Voice judge left the glitter-cannon bangers at home when she played Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

“I’mma do it like it ain’t been done,” sings Jessie J as her show begins. Nothing about "Ain't Been Done" the opener of her recent album Sweet Talker, or its performance supports her claim, but then Jessie these days is less a quirk merchant, more a craftsperson who knows exactly how to construct a hit as a platform for voice and personality. And she’s got quite enough of both of those.

Yet tonight, she seems to be reining herself in. Compared to the big-guns arena tour for 2013's Alive, she’s positively restrained, clad in just a low-key black BRIXTON basketball top, walking no walkways, backed by no dancers.

And many of the new songs she and her great band showcase have a more mature, slinky 90s R&B tone than her biggest glitter-cannon bangers (if it's still the bangers that really ignite the crowd). De La Soul’s appearance (though not present tonight) on the “Me Myself And I”-sampling “Seal Me With A Kiss” sets the tone, along with the slow-jammy “Keep Us Together”. She even, on the 10th anniversary of her audition for BRIT School girl group Soul Deep, sings the song she sang that day: a scarily inflection-perfect version of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”.

Less impressive are drippy tears-of-a-clown strummer "You Don't Really Know Me" and a shlocky mangling of "Price Tag", but high points such as angsty powerballad "Personal" and the stompy, soulful “Burnin’ Up” are plentiful enough to outweigh the low ones. The night can only close with recent Number One “Bang Bang”, her collaboration with Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande (again, sadly absent). Jessie asks the crowd each to pick one of the trio, and “Commit to your character. I suppose I’ll be Jessie J…” She certainly commits, giving everything to this rhythmically irresistible track, not like ain’t been done, but certainly like it should be.

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