LIVE REVIEW: Jorja Smith @ Manchester Albert Hall

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By Joey Crutchley

The lights dim and for the first few minutes it’s just the band up on stage. A talented yet simple quartet of piano, bass, drums and guitar launch into the title track from the album, ‘Lost & Found’. After a lengthy introduction, the soul-singer herself, Jorja Smith, emerges on stage filled with elegance and charm. Dressed in a mink-coloured silk dress and white Air Max trainers, this Walsall-born songstress seems reserved, almost shy. “Why do we all fall down with innocence?” Jorja questions on the opening track as she sways across the stage like laundry in the wind. She is undeniably sultry as she waves to the crowd who listen intently.

The 21-year-old BRIT Award winner is welcomed with a roar of applause as the trickling piano notes from fan favourite ‘Teenage Fantasy’ fill the room. Her awareness of melody is clearly demonstrated as the packed-out venue roars the chorus back to her. With her style firmly set, she radiates a soulful similarity to Amy Winehouse, a major influence of Jorja’s. Her ability to switch up genres is completely evident within the 18 track set list, which ranges from violin arrangements with a melancholic ambience, to funky guitar flicks and strobe lighting piercing the venues walls.

A sea of mobile phones fill the room with lights while she performs the haunting ballad ‘Let Me Down’, her vocals stretching like an elastic band, soaring from an FKA Twigs-style falsetto to a rich and raspy Lauryn Hill-influenced alto. Flipping the tempo on the last track, ‘On My Mind’, the track starts with an acoustic guitar accompanied with Jorja’s smoky and honeyed vocals before evolving into a fully electronic dance party.

The show thrives on emotionally raw minimalism, with her voice being the central instrument. There are no elaborate stage props, no five minute dance intervals or outrageous costumes. Instead, just a girl on stage in a pair of Air Max trainers, dancing around in a world of her creation.

(Photo Credit: Academy Music Group)

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Joey Crutchley

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