Joss Stone with Raphael Saadiq at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. August 27, 2007.
The first time I saw Joss Stone, I thought she looked and sounded like the naughty (I think that is the first time I've ever said that word) version of Kelly Clarkson. Since making that first impression on me years ago, I came to realize that despite her age and absolutely stunning physical appearance (Joss, "you're hot, dude..." Words of wisdom courtesy of Jen from The Real World: Denver), Joss Stone is much more of an R&B/Soul artist than a pop music princess, to the point that I'd almost call her the anti-teeny bopper. While many males relish in bashing my music taste that is most easily defined as "music your little sister would like," not a single person had anything negative to say about me attending the 20 year old's show on Monday night. On a night where I finally discovered how to use the brightness settings on my enV correctly and took by far the hottest pictures (HOT!!) I have taken all summer, I became another of the many who kept professing to me, "Joss Stone is legit...and she's really hot."
This summer, The Greek Theatre has become my clearcut favorite venue in LA. Not only is it outdoors (but has no bugs!), but there are great sight lines, and the company that puts on the shows (Nederlander) treats me like royalty! Free parking, free food, and the folks with Nederlander even bring set lists to my seat so I can enjoy the show! Vanessa and crew, I love you guys. Ok, back to the show!
Opening up the show was Ryan Shaw, a soul artist who never let the crowd forget that he was "all about love," nor let us forget the address of his MySpace page. Seeing as I would probably cover my body with the URL to the Billboard Mobile Beat page if I was a boxer (even underneath my trunks, just in case they "accidentally" fell off), I say that if you're an up and coming artist, self-promote all you can while you're on stage. Ryan Shaw was definitely of that same mindset.
The best song in Shaw's set was actually his opening song - a cover of "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke (AKA "Change Gon' Come"). When you have someone singing that classic and singing it well, it makes for a good performance. Luckily, this was one of those good performances.
The rest of Shaw's set was funk/soul and was a fun performance the whole way through. It didn't necessarily take my breath away, but it was a fun way to open up the night.
Next up was former Tony! Toni! Tone'! front man Charles Ray Wiggins, better known as Raphael Saadiq. I actually never knew that Saadiq wasn't his real name! It sounds so real in a neo-soul kind of way, like Musiq Soulchild, which not only sounds real, but sounds like an unbelievable coincidence. Lesson to be learned? If someone's name ends with a "q," it's probably not their real name.
After opening up with a long instrumental, Saadiq, accompanied by some horns and funky bass lines, reintroduced the audience to his smooth, neo-soul vocals. When watching a music industry veteran like Saadiq, who produced Stone's most recent album, it's fun to see how comfortable they are on stage. Whether it was standing at the mic, moving around the stage, or strumming on his guitar, Saadiq stayed within his well established identity on stage.
The best moment in Saadiq's set was his version of "Untitled (How Does It Feel?)", a song that he co-wrote with DeAngelo years ago. If you remember this song like I remember this song, this was the jam back in the day - the kind of song you want to put on for your woman when you're wearing nothing but some silk boxers, a tearaway French maid's costume, and a leather gag ball dangling from your mouth. It's that kind of song.
If you remember the music video to "Untitled"," you'll understand why hearing this song made me want to strip down naked, with nothing but my Billboard Press Pass strategically covering my nether regions (IF IT WAS BIG ENOUGH!!! *high fives all the guys in the room* Totally kidding... it's definitely big enough....), except for when there is a breeze. Did anyone else think it would have been very funny if DeAngelo jumped upwards at the very end of the video, only to reveal an oversized blurry
"censored" blob over his "enormous weiner?" The thought of him potentially doing that still makes me laugh to this day.
Anyways, it was the highlight of Saadiq's set and it was a nice throwback my middle school and high school days to hear his voice. Overall, he was very funk and neo-soul inspired and didn't really do any "songs for the ladies," other than "Untitled." However, he does frequently enjoy singing about making out, which I didn't really notice, but I suppose I have been known to block out lyrics depending on the source.
The lights dimmed and with a rock-inspired introduction, the beautiful Joss Stone made her way out on stage - with a really short (see: hot!) black dress, some interesting nylons, no shoes, and dark hair!
(apparently, this changes all the time)
Me? I was in love...thinking how I was going to get this woman from across the pond to love a bloke like me....
Never again will I let someone tell me that I don't know what love feels like because love feels like Joss Stone looking right at you while you hold up your orange camera phone, singing straight at you, and pointing at you seductively while you frantically take nearly 100 pictures of her to try to come out with a few good ones...and soil your pants repeatedly in the process. That, my friend, is what love feels like - camera phones, hot women, and soiled pants.
Thank you, Joss Stone.
Joss' set list was as follows:
-Baby Baby Baby
-Arms of My Baby
-Bruised but not Broken
-Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now
-Big Ol' Game (with Raphael Saadiq)
-Tell Me 'Bout It
-Right to be Wrong
Joss Stone has one of those rare, unmistakable voices that manages to inject so much of her "edge" into every single note. From the great harmonies that carry "Baby Baby Baby," to the powerful runs that Joss performed at the end of "Arms of my Baby," to upbeat tracks like "Super Duper" and "Tell Me 'Bout It" that managed to get the whole crowd dancing on its collective feet, Joss' vocals make every performance not only powerful, but distinctively unique.
Some interesting things to note about seeing Joss live are:
-Joss Stone drinks out of a ceramic mug while she's on stage.
-Joss Stone has a lovely accent when she speaks, but you wouldn't ever be able to tell from her singing voice.
-Joss Stone might sing with more attitude and bite than most Grammy winners her age, but her on-stage personality is really warm, matches her age, and her voice is actually really friendly.
-Joss Stone says "Thank you" with the most incredible girlish tone that is only matched by Lauren Conrad on The Hills.
-Joss Stone is very hot.
While songs like "Jet Lag" are perfect for her voice, my favorite two performances came during the middle of the soulful siren's set in "Bruised but not Broken" and "Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now." In "Bruised," Joss started out standing at the mic and displayed a softer side to Joss Stone (mmmm...), before putting her trademark attitude into some of the later choruses. When you go to a Joss Stone show, you quickly learn that her voice absolutely commands your attention in every song and you're happy to comply.
"Tell Me..." is one of my favorite songs out right now and even without hip-hopper Common on the track, Joss was more than capable of carrying the song on her own. If you haven't heard the song before, it's a very smooth, melodic track in its studio form, but its live version on Monday night featured Joss absolutely going off on some pretty unreal runs to close out the final chorus that left everyone in attendance in awe.
For the encore, Joss performed "Right to be Wrong," which transformed The Greek Theatre into a soulful karaoke bar. Hearing everyone singing along was really funny because the song has a ton of runs that the whole audiences attempted with limited success. Joss looked entertained by our attempts while she smiled and moved around the stage. She sent the song out with yet another big run and enjoyed some huge cheers from the appreciative and attentive audience.
For the post-encore, Joss laid down the sexiest version of "No Woman, No Cry" that has ever been performed. While it kept the upbeat feel (it wasn't like a Marilyn Monroe, "Happy Birthday... Mr. President...."), it instantly turned the ganja-smoke producing reggae track into a hot soul track when Joss' voice came into the equation. As the English hottie skipped around the stage and tossed roses to the crowd like the hottest girl in your school's hottest sorority (what up, Delta Gamma!), I was convinced that I had not only attended a great concert, but that I was in love with Joss Stone.
So Greek Theatre, I love you. Nederlander staff, I love you.
And Joss Stone, I really love you.