The end of November at the Wiltern was marked by back-to-back sold-out shows by Jorja Smith. She had been in town earlier this month for Tyler, the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw, but was back for her own headlining show just days after kicking off the Lost & Found Tour. Though she was said to have tonsillitis and despite the show falling on one of LA’s first truly cool nights, Smith did not skimp on the talent and warmth.
The night began with her album’s (and tour’s) title track, “Lost & Found.” At the microphone stand, her voice oozed over: “Why do we all fall down with innocence?” Plate-shaped lights scattered across the drooping curtains, evoking an old-age tropical club feel, which was rounded out by her lime-ish green dress and hair tightly pulled back with a matching scrunchie.
After “Teenage Fantasy,” which was accompanied by some crowd assistance during a chorus, she welcomed the Angelenos: “Hello LA. How is everybody tonight?” There were indeed those in the audience that favored incessant screaming at relatively appropriate times. When Smith said, “I really love it here… thank you for all your support,” it only fueled their fire. Possibly due to tonsilitis (or not), Smith was not much for chit-chat, as singer-songwriters can be. However, she did give confirm one song’s suspected inspiration. “So this next one is called ‘The One’ and I wrote this one because I met the one.” She went on to say maybe she didn’t meet “the one” after all, a turn of events lucky for the listener. “The One” stood out as more seductive and dark than previous songs, but still possessed her typical R&B flare. It was not a moment to croon at the mic stand. Smith took her time moving across the stage, pausing every so often to slowly swivel her hips in time with instrumental breaks. At the end of the song, with lyrics finished, she swerved her head around like a hypnotic snake.
For “Lifeboats,” working against the flexible nature of a denoted freestyle song, Smith took to guide the crowd. It was the one of the night’s more jovial, communal moments. “Is everyone feeling good… I wanna try something,” she began. “And it all falls down,” she sang, to which the audience repeated. During the song, Smith introduced her four-piece band, who she eventually left on stage for a moment. They continued to jam out, long and groovy enough for those in the crowd to feel inspired to dance.
After “Blue Lights,” Smith and her band exited, which resulted in cheering and sporadic stomping throughout the theater. The stage remained dark when the keyboard player began to ping away. Smith returned next. In an ever so slightly raspy voice, she introduced the beginning of the end: “Don’t Watch Me Cry.” A quick cough escaped after she sang, “I’m left tryna rewind the times you held and kissed me then.” Smith was under an intense spotlight, definitively sticking out in front of a dark curtain and dimmed stage lights. It was a more vulnerable moment of the night, lyrically and literally. “All I can do is let my heart bleed,” she sang, the stage intensifying in glow.
For the final song, “On My Mind,” the entire band was back. Only two lines in, you could hear the audience sing along, lasting to the end. Smith started the song with ease, a few lines stripped back, and eventually kicked in with full force, to the delight of many. It was a call for dancing. Some rejoiced by screaming, others bopped. One girl, surrounded by friends with phones intent on capturing the moment, couldn’t be bothered to do anything but dance. At the chorus, Smith threw her arms up and the crowd knew to take charge of the words. When she took the microphone back, the support continued. It was a tropic disco dance party. In bidding farewell, Smith was grateful: “A big round of applause for yourself. I love you, and everybody, please get home safe.”
- Lost & Found
- Teenage Fantasy
- February 3rd
- The One
- Tomorrow/ You Got Me (The Roots feat. Erykah Badu cover)
- Wandering Romance
- On Your Own
- Where Did I Go?
- I Am
- Blue Lights
- Don’t Watch Me Cry
- On My Mind
All photos by Boston Lynn Schulz