SAN FRANCISCO — English singer-songwriter Jess Glynne was in a mood to uplift others on the opening night of her U.S. tour at the Regency Ballroom. Her latest album, last fall’s Always In Between, is a work inspired by gospel, Motown and soul. All three of them make people dance, and all three made their presence known at Monday’s concert.
Following an energetic intro, Glynne, her band and three backing vocalists kicked-started into “Hold My Hand,” one of her biggest hits from her 2015 debut LP. But while the show sometimes looked back, it was mostly about looking forward with new material, beginning with “No One,” “Rollin” and “Intro.” The band and singer had plenty of moments to shine with extended soloing and interludes, the first of which led into “These Days,” a newer collaboration with Rudimental, Macklemore and Dan Caplen; and staccato-based “123.”
“I wrote this song to tell myself I’m not perfect and that’s OK,” Jess Glynne said as an introduction to “Thursday,” her sandy voice rising like waves above her band.
Returning to her 2015 debut, Glynne and co. performed the Jackson-5-tinged “Ain’t Got Far to Go” and disco-laden “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself.” Another older tune, piano ballad “Take Me Home,” provided the show’s only weepy moment, with a sold-out Regency singing word-for-word from start to end, and the backing singers not joining until the very end.
New mid-tempo cut “Hate/Love,” meanwhile, featured an R&B vibe, and “So Real (Warriors)” began a dance party medley that also included “Real Love,” her hit with Clean Bandit, and 2015’s “My Love.” The danceable gospel of “So Real Warriors” gave her drummer a chance to shine. “Real Love” and Glynne’s other hit with Clean Bandit, “Rather Be” proved to be perfectly suited for pogoing with the Regency’s house lights on. Judging by hundreds of ecstatic faces, it was an altering experience.
Glynne rounded out the show with poppy new song “All I Am,” funky fan favorite “Right Here” and new cut “I’ll Be There,” with her signature self-modulating delivery, which approached a yodel and incited another singalong.
New York singer-songwriter ABIR opened the concert, playing her first show with a talented band that included a trumpeter who had many of the riffs that typically fall to a guitarist and keyboardist. The Morocco-born artist released her debut EP last fall and included all but one of its tracks alongside a jazzy rendition of Disclosure’s “Latch” and D’Angelo’s “How Does It Feel.” The former led into a bouncy “Girls,” and empowering and slinky “Tango.”
It was a strong start, but ABIR and her band kept picking up steam with unreleased power ballad “King,” on which she traded in gritty Top 40 vocals for the higher range of a Disney princess. “For Ya” had some guitar riffage, which was a bit different from the rest of the set but equally as appealing.
New single “Young and Rude,” a banger, featured some elements of trance, while “Reunion” and “Mine were more traditionally poppy. She saved her best for last with “Finest Hour,” her song with Cash Cash. As ABIR powerfully delivered the first few notes, the room erupted in cheers.
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.