If we had to choose one word to conclude the launch of JONES London EP, it would simply be magical.
Having first witnessed JONES at Omeara at the tail end of last year, we knew that we were in for another soothing evening of ‘New Skin’ favourites as well as an exclusive first listen of her new EP – but nothing quite prepared us for what came next.
Arriving at Kansas Smittys – a speakeasy-esque bar off of Broadway market which JONES later confessed to having spent many a Sunday drinking cocktails there – we followed the signs to the stairwell which lead us down to the floor below. At first, it was hard to comprehend what the venue was like having never been there before; our eyes taking a while to adjust to the low-lit basement beneath the East end haunt. Once we had acclimatised to our new surroundings, the room came to life. To our left was a small bar serving up the most vibrant cocktails, jazz and swing classics took ownership of the record player, with tables jotted around the room that soon began to fill with punters – tipple in hand. Each and everyone that had come to watch the performance was given a complimentary drink of their choice; an incredibly generous touch.
Taking our seats at one of the tables at the front, ten past eight soon came around and JONES appeared from a side door dressed in a sapphire-blue two-piece, doused top to bottom in glitter. Whilst JONES looked much like a young Diana Ross, if you looked close enough you saw her statement Dr Martens peeping out from the bottom of her trouser legs. Not forgetting yellow tasseled earrings that poked through JONES’ thick, luscious locks – thus blending 60’s motown chic with an urban East London twist.
JONES took to her microphone, facing the crowd of eagerly awaiting devotees, announcing that today marked the release of her London EP and lead single ‘Tender’. The London EP was the first of a three-part EP series dedicated to JONES favourite cities. Having listened to it on the train to London earlier that day, we were blown away by the raw, undressed lyrics of each track – but then again, that was exactly the reason we fell in love with JONES from the beginning.
A good friend of JONES – and original live guitarist – Jack joined her on stage for the evening. The pair launched into classic JONES, warming the crowd with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Hoops’, moving seamlessly into the next two records which were both tracks from the new EP – ‘How About That’ & ‘Tender’. Whilst they were vocally exquisite, we couldn’t help feeling that we were invading JONES’ privacy. The lyrics from each track were sung as though they were being lifted from the pages of a padlocked-diary and we experienced our first unfamiliar feeling of nervousness at a gig.
Watching JONES in November last year to then sitting beneath her local weekend lair, the transformation between the two was remarkable. Omeara had been her first headline gig in London and we remember there being a few nerves throughout the performance – and rightly so – but transport JONES to the depths of Kansas Smitty’s surrounded by her friends, family and dedicated followers and it was as though we were sat in her living room whilst she practised in front of a mirror. It was beautiful to watch an artist blossom with the confidence they know they have deep down and to be able to grow over time and at the pace of their choice. There is absolutely nothing about JONES that shouts overnight success or one hit wonder. The quality of her music and deliverance of her live performance solidified the fact that we were in for the long haul with the London soulstress.
For the rest of her performance, JONES took us on a journey from recent records ‘Something Bout Our Love’, to ‘Think Too Much’ which she dedicated to her fellow insomniacs in the room. As ever, her delivery of cover song ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack stunned the already-speechless crowd. Audience participation was imperative throughout some of the verses and hooks of select records – the crowd more than willing to execute claps and clicks once given the nod from JONES.
Before we knew it, the evening had drawn to a close and JONES announced her final tracks. As we lost ourselves to ‘Indulge’ & ‘Melt’, and revelled in a two-track encore of our choice, it soon dawned on us that an hour with JONES – in the confines of Kansas Smitty – had been nothing short of a dream.
See below for the full track-listing of the evening: