Elias Bender Rønnenfelt staggered onto the stage, a Hamm’s in one hand. He clasped his other hand around the microphone, and then looked blankly from under his canvas hat, out onto the audience, all detachment and potential energy. Unimpressed with what he saw. The show had not started yet. Rønnenfelt was a walking magnetic field.
In ten minutes, Rønnenfelt would be falling into the crowd, wishing it was a mattress and beating the people in the front rows when he realized, over and over again, that it was not. He would be curling in a ball in front of the bass drum. He would be refusing offered replacements for a broken guitar strap, opting to sing lead, dropping his guitar on the ground.
At the start of her packed show Thursday night in San Francisco, Jessie Ware’s token platitudes for the city of San Francisco started out as just that—expected banter from a touring musician, repeated hundreds of times over. By the end of the show, though, after constant affection showered upon the breakout UK star from an adoring crowd, her city-crush on San Francisco rose to fever pitch. Then, when someone handed her a bouquet of roses, Ware completely lost it.
“Oh my Gooooooodddddd!!” she wailed, in thick British accent. “This really is our favorite city!”
Ware’s full-length album Devotion still hasn’t been officially been released in the United States, whatever that means in the year 2013; everyone at the Rickshaw Stop seemed to know nearly every song. Opening with the title track, Ware and her rock-solid band emitted a slow pulse, built it to a climax and, as Ware sang loudly away from the mic, pushed the song into transcendence. It was a formula that would be repeated throughout the night, but never felt, well, formulaic.