Joss Stone At The Wiltern

  • Joss Stone performs at the Wiltern on Oct. 24
    Photo: The Recording Academy

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By Crystal Larsen
Los Angeles

With a look that almost mirrors the late Janis Joplin and a soulful voice that harkens back to legends such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Gladys Knight, Joss Stone has solidified herself as a significant figure in the pantheon of storied female vocalists. And she's only 25.

If you ask the GRAMMY winner what it means to make "soul" music, she might admit the term is pretty vague. But what's clearly evident is what soul music means to her. "It just means that you feel it from the depths of your soul to the tips of your toes," the British songstress loudly proclaimed during her concert Wednesday night at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.

Backed by a vibrant nine-piece band, including a three-piece brass section and three sultry-voiced background singers, Stone's spicy neo-soul set provided nothing short of the powerful presence for which she's known. The only items missing were, appropriately, her shoes. But who needs shoes when you've got legs, hair and a voice that stretch for days?

Dressed in a leopard-print, one-shoulder minidress, Stone was clearly ready to bring the house down as she pranced onstage to the beat of the Chi-Lites' "(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People." It was quickly evident that when you're at a Joss Stone concert, you leave your bad days at the door.

"We all have s*** days right?" Stone asked later in her set. "Well, that's just today. There's always tomorrow."

It was also clear that anything is fodder for discussion as in-between song chatter featured reflections on bra burning ("they're uncomfortable and unnecessary") and relationships gone-by ("this guy was a real bugger").

As she shifted from "new songs" — soul covers from her latest album, 2012's The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2 — to her R&B- and neo-soul-tinged originals, random shouts of "I love you" could be heard from all corners of the venue, especially during her performance of the inviting "Put Your Hands On Me," during which the singer's hands were placed nearly everywhere but her microphone stand, which was dressed fashionably with purple scarves. 

The stand was used repeatedly throughout the night as a support system for Stone, who would often lean into it as she reached deep down to deliver notes that were, to paraphrase Carole King, earth-moving. The floor of the Wiltern literally shook for a moment as Stone left before coming back for an encore, this time with a little more rock in her step.

A swirling electric guitar solo opened the first song of the encore, a soulful cover of Broken Bells' "The High Road." Stone put her own soulful slant on the track originally sung by the Shins' James Mercer, backed by a melodic guitar groove. Next was "Fell In Love With A Boy," Stone's answer to the White Stripes' "Fell In Love With A Girl."

My take on Wednesday night with Joss Stone? I think everyone fell in love with her, if they hadn't already.

Set List
"(For God's Sake) Give More Power To The People" (the Chi-Lites cover)
"While You're Out Looking For Sugar" (Honey Cone cover)
"You Had Me"
"Jet Lag"
"Stoned Out Of My Mind" (the Chi-Lites cover)
"Big 'Ol Game"
"Put Your Hands On Me"
"Don't Cha Wanna Ride"
"You Got The Love" (the Source and Candi Staton cover)
"Tell Me 'Bout It"
"The High Road" (Broken Bells cover)
"Fell In Love With A Boy" (the White Stripes cover)

To catch Joss Stone in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

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