JORJA SMITH, Brixton Academy – Evening Standard, 18 Oct 2018

Here’s one good reason why it’s generally better to watch gigs in London: more musical mates. Jorja Smith’s UK tour, which has passed through the regions without incident, last night featured spirited cameos from female rapper Little Simz, Irish singer Maverick Sabre and, earning the biggest cheers of the night, Dizzee Rascal.

It was, surprisingly, an inaugural onstage team-up for the young Walsall soul singer and the grime pioneer. Her breakthrough single, Blue Lights, lifted lines from his 2007 song Sirens, but they hadn’t performed the two together until now.

She was bound to pull him into her powerful orbit eventually. Smith, at 21, has whooshed from teenage internet buzz to an appearance on a Drake record, a Mercury Prize nomination for her debut album and the Brit Award for Critics’ Choice, previously given to Sam Smith, Florence + the Machine and Adele. She was omnipresent in Brixton even before the gig started, appearing all the way up the tube escalators in an advert for Nike.

Like Adele, her appeal rests on a spectacular voice, which ranged from honeyed soul to a fluttering falsetto on Lost & Found and even did some rapping of her own on Lifebooats. While she can be heavy on the ballads on record, here her slick four-piece band provided an uncharacteristically fiery guitar solo on Something in the Way and more guests, jazz group Ezra Collective, made the sound more abstract on their own song, Reason in Disguise. I Am, her dramatic contribution to Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack, suggested it isn’t just Dua Lipa who should be considered for the next Bond theme.

All that was missing was one more guest spot, from Stormzy, who appears on her single Let Me Down. At least she has a second night here, perhaps to rectify the matter.

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