Jessie Ware Makes West Coast Debut, Clarifies Her Feelings on Big Pun

The bubbly British import, readying her stateside EP, performs at LA's Bootleg Theater after nearly a year's worth of overseas buzz.

Jessie Ware is excited to be in Los Angeles.

Three nights after her stateside debut in New York, the 28-year-old Mercury Prize-nominated singer bounded on stage at Westlake's Bootleg Theater before Thursday's small, sold out crowd: a handful of curious insiders who had to enter a lottery for a chance to buy tickets. She was barely finished with her first song, the title track to her British debut (Devotion), before she started giggling.

"I like to go on at 9 p.m. and be in bed by 11," she said, clumsily adjusting the mic stand, "but I forgot my trousers, and they wouldn't let us back into our hotel."

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A frenzied retelling of accidentally crashing a private party, synchronized swimmers performing to Christmas carols and a run-in with "Spider-Man" ensued before she had to stop to catch her breath. Her singing, which rings familiar of all manner of old school jazz queens, Sade and even Adele, came much easier.

That voice's arrival on the west coast comes after nearly a year of critical lauding abroad and stateside evangelizing by the likes of Billboard and Pitchfork. It's a talent that gives Ware every right to be annoyingly serious on stage, but during her hour-long set, she was never anything short of giddy.  

Sporting a tussled bun of dark hair, chunky hoop earrings and Barbara Eden midriff, she performed all of her U.K. singles -- "Still Love Me," "Wildest Moments," "Sweet Talk" -- and even her slightly controversial U.S. debut, "110%." It was just announced that the song would be renamed "If You're Never Gonna Move" now that a sample from Big Pun's "The Dream Shatterer" was yanked by his estate.

Here's where Ware's next apology came in. Speaking of the disappointment and inconvenience of the retooling at Monday's New York gig, Ware dropped a f-bomb on Big Pun, getting pickup from multiple outlets.

"I love Big Pun," she professed, before launching into the original version of the song, sample included. "That's got to go, but not tonight."

Ware peppered the set with two covers, Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do For Love" and '90s one-hit wonder Brownstone's "If You Love Me," to compensate for her admittedly small catalog -- her rationale for a third and final apology to the forgiving crowd.

The end of the night, just a few minutes past Ware's favored bedtime, came without an encore -- not that anybody expected one after she sang "Running" and exited to elbows-in-the-air applause.

Ware embarks on a proper six-date U.S. tour in January after her American EP drops via Cherrytree/Interscope. It includes another stop in Los Angeles at the El Rey on Jan. 23.