Is It Possible To Be A Down To Earth Pop-Star? Jessie J Shows Us How
Having never been to Somerset House for a major event it was something of a surprise to see the venue converted into an outdoor concert space. It is worth noting that this was my first time attending an actual gig, standing amidst the crowd in front of the stage so I had an interesting education from the zealous and passionate fans of Jessie J on the “barrier” culture of getting to the barrier first and at moments regretted having inadvertently caused a minor turf war for prime barrier real estate.
Having established that eye contact is a bad thing and keeping your head down when you don’t know the rest of the barrier crowd is a wise self preservation tactic, let me move on to the opening act. Local girl Sinead Harnett.
After having spoken with a fellow outsider in the barrier crowd, it became apparent he was a loyal and dedicated fan of Sinead Harnett. My response when she stepped out on stage was therefore somewhat muted by comparison to the chorus of gasps that emanated from the general crowd close enough to see her clearly. A striking resemblance to Jessie J with a health dose of Rhianna styling gave her an early Jessie J vibe. Slightly rough around the edges, bucket loads of attitude and a smooth vocal that hinted at the years of paying dues that brings with it masses of stage presence and confidence. Accompanied by DJ Sarah Love the home crowd certainly gave a warm London welcome to the underground/house music stylings of the local girl (have a listen to the current single here: https://youtu.be/t481nPBsenA).
The real story of course, is the queen of the evening, Jessie J. Having never witnessed the lady herself live in concert I was blissfuly ignorant of the emotional punch that comes with watching Jessie J in action. Whilst the hits rolled by one by one, the stripped back honesty and banter with the audience are what really stood out. Forging an instant likability and connection, her unique self depreciating humour was frequent and her natural instinct to nurture and share some life lessons with her audience made her instantly more human then the poised and somewhat more distant attitude of similar acts such as Beyonce or Rhianna. There’s just something about an Essex girl who still consider’s London Town as her home turf that struck a chord with the crowd.
I couldn’t comment on the quality of Jessie’s vocal performance since the crowd screamed literally every word to every song louder then the speakers trying to convey the actual concert could. So instead I will comment on the energy and attitude that Jessie managed to convey, this woman clearly loves to sing but there’s something deeply caring about the way she wants to share the music with you. This isn’t just another pop star wheeling out the same tunes every show. You get the feeling that Jessie will throw you some curve ball notes and ad libs just to keep you on your toes and make sure you’re paying attention. With as many serious moments of contemplation as there were off beat humorous moments (or facial expressions) it was clear Jessie felt like she had something to give back to the home crowd, perhaps even demonstrating some uncharacteristic nerves at times.
The on stage camaraderie she shared with her band and crew was evident when she called everyone (including stage hands) out on the stage to take a final bow. For me, the experience was less about the music and more about discovering the woman beneath the media hype. A role model isn’t just someone who happens to be thrust into the media spotlight, its someone who’s found themselves there and understands the responsibility that comes with being in the public eye. Somehow Jessie manages to make it less about her and more about her fans, a genuine role model and vocally an underestimated performer who proves with effortless style that she has nothing to prove to anyone.To find out more about the Somerset House Summer Series
Words by Tara Baird
Video from Aya Chang