Jessie Ware. Since the pop-disco-princess released her debut album, Devotion, in 2012, she’s started Table Manners – a nit-nat-centric, cult podcast with her mother, Lenni, covering all things food and family – and collaborated with industry juggernauts like Ed Sheeran and Nicki Minaj. Her second studio album Tough Love was then dropped in 2014, followed three years later by Glasshouse – amounting to a diverse body of work that earned Ware’s stripes as a sonic storyteller.
Now, as she embarks on a major headline tour in support of her fresh off-the-press album, That! Feels Good!. William Bowerman is the director who brought it to life. “I’ve known Jessie for about 10 years and [we] have worked together for the last three,” he tells Ten. “I love that despite being five albums into her career, she has the hunger to keep improving and keep striving for more. It is an infectious energy to be around which pours through the camp – you can see it in the dancers and band on stage. Jessie pulls from a depth of creative references, which makes her incredible to work with.”
The musical director and co-founder of WFB Live – the husband-wife duo who are to thank for the visual spectacle of tours such as Blackpink’s Born Pink, Post Malone’s Twelve Carat Toothache (“we brought on board his first live band and a string quartet made for some work I’m very proud of,” he says) and Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia (“a unique – and amazing – experience”) – Bowerman delivers bespoke experiences that feel equal parts personal and spectacular. WFB Live has worked with the whole who’s who of modern performers, from Kylie Minogue to Jax Jones, Anne Marie and Aitch to Rina Sawayama; even Calvin Harris, Yungblood, Elton John and FKA Twigs for Valentino’s SS24 show. But Jessie Ware? “Jessie is one of the best performers out there,” he says. “Her energy on that stage is unmatched and doubles not only as [the] artist but [as the] host of the evening. She’s a truly special performer surrounded by an incredible cast of singers, musicians and dancers putting their everything into an incredible party.”
Hitting 16 cities across the UK, Canada and the US, the singer’s London leg – and final leg – of the That! Feels Good! tour kicks off with shows at Alexandra Palace this weekend, November 17 and 18. Based around a sultry, imagined exclusive members club, The Pearl Club, the show is an enchanting, multi-act performance that transports you to a sumptuous alternate realm, one lathered in red velvet and toe-tapping melodies. There, you’ll embark on a poignant journey through “love, sex and power,” according to a release. Bowerman’s “very strictly choreographed” show was sure to pay homage to Ware’s sustained discography for the set list. He notes, “we focused the show around four acts based on a lyric of Jessie’s: ‘Lady, Lover, Freak and Mother’… Jessie’s back catalogue as well as her new album That! Feels Good! really speaks to the many facets of her as a woman and a musician, and has something for everyone in the audience to connect with…. She’s been writing music for at least 10 years so we had an insight into Jessie’s mind over many parts of her life.” It made sense to the team to bring Ware older tracks into the mix as the perfect complement to her newer music and That! Feels Good! album. “Her audience will always want to hear some of their favourites,” he adds.
“Act three, “Freak”, is my personal favourite,” says Bowerman, speaking on the theatrical structure of the show. “It’s the first time we have leaned into Jessie and DJ which is ever present in her very early career. We created a really dark yet ever fun act that I feel will surprise many JW fans.”
Aesthetically, the show is an indigo-tinged exploration of velveteen nightlife, backdropped by a neon ‘The Pearl’ sign, nodding to an imagined club that sets the stage for Ware’s performance. Despite the impressive aesthetics, Bowerman always puts the music first. “Protecting the song is the most important thing when building a show. You can play with the production, arrangements and instrumentation but the feeling and story of the song must always be present. Our brief to the band was to imagine themselves as one – we wanted the drums and guitar to become one loop like a lot of 70s disco or late 90s French touch – there is rarely a lead part which provides the perfect bed for Jessie’s vocals.”
A longtime friend of Bowerman, Ware praises, “It’s always such a pleasure working with WFB. I trust them to create something original, innovative and beautiful and I appreciate how much they listen and respect me and my ideas. It’s extremely collaborative and a total joy creating with the team. They have taken my live experience to another level and it’s pushed me into a new world of performance.”
If anything can be taken from the That! Feels Good! experience, it’s that Jessie Ware is at the top of her game. In collaborating with visionaries like Bowerman, Ware’s spellbinding talent, presence and hip-swirling music becomes completely immersive. This tour gives fans the chance to experience the wonderful world of Jessie Ware like they never have before – and they’re lapping it up with every mellifluous note. Ware’s growth and versatility as an artist have long been proven over the course of her career, but with this next venture, she’s proving to the world she is far from finished.
Text by Emily Phillips and Bella Koopman. Photography by Luka McGhie. Jessie Ware’s London leg of the ‘That! Feels Good!’ tour kicks off with shows at Alexandra Palace November 17 and 18.