The 23-year-old British chanteuse delivered a stunning show at packed Red Butte Garden, proving that a powerhouse voice and some sexy soul moves can easily compete with GaGas or Christinas of the world.
This was my first time seeing Joss Stone perform live, and while I knew that she had some incredible pipes--something in evidence ever since she burst on the scene as a teenager with The Soul Sessions in 2003--I had no idea she was such a strong frontwoman, or that she worked the classic soul side of the street so well. Some of her recorded work since her debut has moved into straightforward pop territory, but her show Friday was a straight-up soul revue featuring a strong 10-piece band, a horn section and three dynamic backup singers.
Even with all those people on stage, it was impossible to ignore Stone once she took the stage. For the most part, that was because she commandeered the amphitheater from her first song, "Super Duper Love (Are You Digging On Me?)," setting up the party vibe and showing off her stellar band from the jump. But it was also because the beautiful singer took the stage barefooted, in a gauzy minidress that the wind constantly blew skyward, ala Marilyn Monroe on the heating grate.
After "Super Duper Love" and the following "Free Me," Stone had had enough of battling the elements and bounded backstage to change into another dress, but not before cracking a joke about her hippie-dippie image.
"With this wind, I don't want to flash you. It seems inappropriate," Stone announced to scattered cheers AND boos. "And as much as I love Mother Nature, she can fuck off right now!"
A quick change into another short dress was followed by an impressive display of soul and funk courtesy of Stone and her excellent backing band, running through songs like Stone's "Put Your Hands On Me," "Music," her reimagining of The White Stripes' "Fell In Love With a Girl" into her own, swanky "Fell In Love With a Boy," and touches of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and Common's "The Light."
Throughout the show, Stone was a charmer, chatting up the audience, explaining the impetus behind some songs and cajoling everyone to find their own inner sexy growl to sing along with her. She couldn't resist getting her bare feet into the flowerbeds in front of the Red Butte stage (apologizing to the gardners, of course--she IS British and as polite as that implies), and genuinely enjoying the comradery of the musicians on stage with her.
If I ever had any reason to think Stone was less than legit as a soul singer or performer, those doubts were easily put to rest by her show. And given how young Stone still is, there's no reason to think she'll remain worth hearing for years to comes--something you can't say about most of the flavor-of-the-month pop tarts that have come along during Stone's short career to date. Do yourself a favor and don't miss her the next time Stone comes around.