Jorja Smith returned to the Valley for a sold-out show at The Van Buren on November 29.
The concert, which supported her debut album, June’s Lost & Found, marked the British R&B singer-songwriter’s first performance in the Valley since opening for Bruno Mars on the 24K Magic World Tour just over a year ago.
Smith has garnered attention in recent years for popular singles such as “Blue Lights,” “Where Did I Go?” and “Teenage Fantasy,” all of which she performed at The Van Buren, but it was perhaps her features on not one but two songs on Drake’s 2017 More Life playlist that marked her big break. In addition to contributing her own “Jorja Interlude,” she was featured alongside Black Coffee on “Get It Together.” Nearly a year later, she would go on to compose “I Am” for the Kendrick Lamar-curated Black Panther soundtrack.
But with her debut full-length solo affair now out in the world, Smith is in the midst of a month-long supporting tour making its way across North America.
Smith, donning a shimmering silver dress, took to The Van Buren stage for Lost & Found’s self-titled opening cut. Vocally impressive, the singer-songwriter sounded just as she does on wax.
Keeping things simple, she based her performance mainly on the music, with the occasional thanks and other banter interspersed between songs. Smith was the focal point, with her band spaced out farther back around the stage.
Throughout her set, Smith delivered the entirety of Lost & Found, along with a couple other cuts. During Lost & Found’s “Lifeboats (Freestyle)” later in the set, she sang in a call-and-response fashion, allowing fans to participate. The song ended with a band jam as Smith briefly left the stage.
Toward the end of her set, she revisited February’s Black Panther soundtrack for “I Am,” arguably one of the stand outs among the 14-song set – though she performed each and every song well. She wrapped up with “Blue Lights.”
But it wasn’t the end. Smith slowed things down as she returned to the stage for a two-song encore. Fans screamed and cheered, with “I love you, Jorjas” and calls for favorite songs filling the air as Smith eased her way into the emotional “Don’t Watch Me Cry.”
Much to fans’ delight, Smith ended her set on a high note with the garage-influenced “On My Mind,” which she and producer Preditah released last year. Starting off fairly slow, the song’s dance roots eventually kicked into full gear.
Smith brought Chicagoan singer-songwriter Ravyn Lenae along for the ride. Much of Lenae’s opening set came from her Steve Lacy-produced Crush EP, all five tracks of which she performed during her approximately 45 minutes on stage.
“I promise to move my body. I promise to keep my promise,” Lenae made the crowd repeat, pinkies in the air, after kicking off her set with “Closer (Ode 2 U).”
Personal questions were important for Lenae, who kept the crowd involved and engaged throughout the evening. At one point, Lenae asked the crowd who has fallen in love over the internet or been in a long-distance relationship. This theme carried on as she led into “Computer Luv.”
Later in the evening, she asked who has ever been stuck in the friend zone, which served as a transition to “4 Leaf Clover.”
Aside from spacing out Crush’s five-song tracklist, which also includes “The Night Song” and “Sticky,” Lenae delivered cuts from her 2015 debut project, Moon Shoes. The first was “Everything Above,” which marked her second song of the evening. Later, Lenae revisited her Chicago roots with the house-inspired “Free Room.”
As a centerpiece to her set, Lenae performed “Spice” and “Unknown” from Midnight Moonlight, her second project, which was released in 2017. Though Lenae had plenty of material to fill the evening, it wasn’t all originals for the singer. Giving fans a peek at what she called one of her biggest influences, she performed a rendition of OutKast’s “Prototype.”
Lenae’s strong vocal performance and stage presence aside, her three-piece band delivered an equally tight performance. Consisting solely of guitar, bass/keyboards and drums, the stage set-up was minimal but lively, and adequately prepared fans for Smith’s set that would follow.
Setlist – Jorja Smith
Lost & Found
On Your Own
Where Did I Go?
Don’t Watch Me Cry
On My Mind
Setlist – Ravyn Lenae
Closer (Ode 2 U)
The Night Song
4 Leaf Clover