Tonight (and with no small thanks to Thames Water, who have flooded the Central Line), we’re late and rushing through Chelsea stadium, passing by changing rooms and merchandise shops. Finally, we find what we’re looking for: the entrance to a new club, ‘Under The Bridge’, hidden in a tiny doorway beneath the outer walls. Onstage tonight is Devon girl-turned-superstar singer Joss Stone, whose performance is being broadcast live on MSNUK.
She may regret this later, we think, as halfway through the first song a wardrobe malfunction leaves her clutching at her top to preserve her modesty. Returning for the second track in a new silver outfit, she struts around the stage, every bit a true performer. Her strikingly powerful voice is surprising as her renewed Britishness counteracts the criticism she received for her Americanised acceptance speech. She even drinks tea between songs, topping up her cup with a matching teapot.
Naturally, the classics ‘Fell In Love With A Boy’ and ‘You Had Me’ are best received, inspiring mass sing-a-longs. Joss spurs the crowd on with a quick jab at her contemporaries, telling them ‘it doesn’t have to be in tune – we all listened to the radio today.’ There are glimpses of future radio hits too, mixed in amongst some slightly too-long ballads.
Based on tonight, it’s not fair to write Joss off as yet another British singer lured away by the bright lights of the States. She’s still that West Country girl with the big hair and even bigger voice. As we all pile out into the night, I wonder how her new album will fare.
Words and Image by Natalie Gardiner