Well that probably depended on whether you were a 15/16 year old in the first few rows last night in the front of the stage or much older to see Jessie J.
Jessie J opened Henley Festival in 2015, and in our review we said “with a’ bang’ on the floating stage with her big voice and raunchy performance she’s renowned for, to the delight of the audience which ranged from 12 to 70+. However this year it was quite different and there definitely seemed a mixed bag of reaction between the younger and older audience.
The show started off well with Jessie arriving through the centre of stage on to a high podium with a huge silver ball above her head and large bank of stage lighting. She opened her set with two of her classics Masterpiece and Dude. With the crowd up dancing, Jessie said, “Stay standing we’re going to have a party tonight.” She then commented that she hoped someone was getting married as you’re all dressed up for one. Going on to say, “This is one of my favourite shows. I was delighted to be invited back.” She asked the security team to be more relaxed and to allow the audience to be able to come up forward and dance in the aisles, adding, “I don’t think they’ll be much trouble.”
Now 31, Jessie seemed much more nostalgic last night talking a lot more between songs about where she came from and who she was, saying, “I’m just a girl from Essex who likes to sing to pay the rent,” before reflecting on who she was a person and giving advice to the young people in audience and singing Nobody’s Perfect. She then spoke to Bobby, aged 16 in the front row – asking her and the audience not to cover their faces with their phones, saying “I want to see your faces to see how you respond to my songs.”
The tempo of the show then started to dip with Jessie singing the ballad Queen from her last album. After singing Flashlight with the audience turning on their phone torches, she then spoke about her security guy, Dave who had been with her for 5 years and lost his life in December. She dedicated the next 3 songs to him from his favourite Jessie J album, Alive (It’s My Party, Sexy and Wild).
Jessie then spoke to Laura, 15 in the front row, asking her what she wanted to do when she was older, she replied “I don’t know yet.” Jessie then gave her advice saying, “Don’t worry you’ll be fine, take your time.”
The next song was Brave from Jessie’s new album, followed by her classic Bang, Bang which the audience got up dancing and singing again. However the tempo slowed down again with Jessie talking about how the next song Who You Are saved her life and was therapy for her. She commented, “Listen to the words – believe in yourself.“
Throughout the show Jessie’s voice was superb though, particularly showing off her high notes in Flashlight.
The last two songs though didn’t disappoint with the whole audience up on their feet singing Domino and Jessie’s biggest hit Price Tag taking us back to the show everyone enjoyed in 2015.
Tom Odell and Jo Whiley will be headlining the floating stage tonight (Friday).
Photo of Jessie J above by Viktor Frankowski