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Jorja Smith review, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London: Brits Critics' Choice winner exudes cool for live show

Her singing seems effortless and her stage presence is everything you’d expect from an artist on the cusp of making waves

Vishal Rana
Monday 19 February 2018 12:48
Jorja Smith performs at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Jorja Smith performs at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Jorja Smith has already won a Brits critics’ choice award, featured on a Kendrick Lamar-curated album, collaborated with Stormzy and Drake among others, and can now add a sellout UK tour to her list of accolades. Not bad for a 20-year-old.

The West Midlander is incredibly talented; her singing seems effortless and her stage presence is everything you’d come to expect from someone who is on the cusp of making waves.

Smith opened her second night at Shepherd’s Bush Empire with “Something In The Way” and “Where Did I Go”, introducing herself to the sellout crowd – which included none other than the legendary Tom Jones.

Dressed in an oversized white T-shirt coupled with a pair of box-fresh Nike Cortez, she excuded coolness as she effortlessly made her way through a set list including new single “Let Me Down” and crowd favourite “Beautiful Little Fools”.

“Lifeboats” saw Smith play with the norm and introduce political grime to her repertoire as she commented on issues around austerity and poverty in Britain, in a thought-provoking performance that proves, as it has so many times before, how music can be the perfect medium for political understanding.

“Carry Me Home” followed, in which Maverick Sabre made a surprise appearance during the collaboration to the delight of the crowd. An equally impressive cover of Frank Ocean’s “Lost” followed before Smith jumped back into Project 11 with “Blue Lights” and “Teenage Fantasy”.

Clearly enjoying herself, Smith could be forgiven for forgetting the lyrics to a couple of tracks on occasion, in what seemed a case of being joyfully overwhelmed in the moment, as opposed to nerves getting the better of her. The Walsall native closed the night with upbeat Preditah collaboration “On My Mind”: a perfect nod to the mini garage revival currently taking place.

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