A Jess Glynne solo show presents something of a enigmatic prospect in 2015 – strange, perhaps, given that she’s basically soundtracked the entirety of the last two years with her gravelly roar and 90’s house-lite beats. But despite already racking up a colossal five number ones since ‘Rather Be’s release in 2014 (making her co-holder of the record for most chart toppers by a British female solo artists, along with Cheryl), the 26-year-old North Londoner is really yet to have the big pop ‘moment’ that will propel her into the big time alongside the likes of Goulding et al.
On the basis of her solid yet safe set at Camden’s Roundhouse last Wednesday (November 4), that moment might still be a little way off. Either way, the night was all about Jess Glynne breaking out of her guest vocal ghetto and continuing to establish herself as a star in her own right. It spoke volumes about the depth of her impressive back catalogue that her two Clean Bandit collabs, ‘Real Love’ and the aforementioned ‘Rather Be’, could be tackled at the very start of the set to fire up the audience straight away, and tracks from her own chart-topping debut album I Laugh When I Cry were note-perfect, if slightly undersold.
“It’s always extra special when you play your hometown, but it makes you extra nervous” Jess announced to the radio-friendly crowd who’d packed out the iconic Camden venue, and they lapped up the hooks as she breathlessly fired off hit after hit like a semi-automatic. But her eagerness to race through the tunes betrayed her clear unease at working a crowd – given the diva tunes and powerful vocals she has in her grasp, what she really need was to take control of her own stage and give her physical presence the oomph to match the audio one.
In fact, despite her R&B roots she seemed at her most comfortable during the big emotional moments like ‘Why Me’, and newly-announced Children in Need single ‘Take Me Home’, where she could take stock, stand and let her vocals alone do the talking. A stripped back ballad interpretation of yet another chart-topper, Route 90’s ‘My Love’, also breathed new life into a radio staple.
The crowd was soon back in full-on dance mode as the show entered its final act and singles ‘Right Here’, Hold My Hand’ and ‘Dont be So Hard on Yourself’ were blasted out with more confidence than at any other point in the proceedings – though whether that’s because Jess knew it’d all soon be over is up for debate. By the glitter-packed close you were left with the feeling that she’s a performer still coming to terms with her own stardom, but based on the talent on display, that’s a stardom she very much has in her hands to own.