For the second night on the trot Jill Scott braved a cold English evening to perform in the Somerset House courtyard as part of their Summer Series, and there’s really only one way to describe it... mesmerizing. A few hiccups caused a bit of backlash from the packed London crowd to begin with, namely Scott’s late entrance on to the stage and the wet weather causing a sea of umbrellas to restrict stage views for those at the back, however everything worked out alright in the end.
Everybody that knows anything about music knows that Philly, or Philadelphia to those not down with the city’s abbreviated name, is rich in hip-hop, soul, and more particularly seventies soul. The Roots, Jazzy Jeff, Eve, and of course Will Smith are all a product of the Philly streets. However, the queen of these streets goes by the name of Jill Scott.
With rain intervals that began heavily immediately before she took to the stage, the moment her feet landed on deck it was almost as if the rain knew she was coming out and the bright light that is in fact her soul inspired the rain to come to a standstill. Kitted out in a rather sexy, curve-hugging pink and black ensemble, complete with sunglasses, as soon as her first song - ‘It’s Love’, finished her opening words to the audience were, “You guys are a much better crowd than last night.” Obviously working those in attendance in to a frenzy, the show really began at this point.
Known for her poetry readings as much as her singing, a few poems were read, which given the hosting venue, is very fitting due to it being so rich in the arts and expressive culture. Giving the audience the show they paid for, Scott’s ongoing mixed theme, which featured countless selections of narrative and comedic elements, as well as a wig introduction to her newly shortened hair, laughs, cries, and shrieks of excitement became the norm.
With the brollies only going up once throughout the 90 minute set, the likes of ‘Real Thing’ and ‘Hate On Me’ went down well, while new cut ‘So Gone (What My Mind Says), which originally features Houston rhymer Paul Wall, were brought to life by Scott’s sharp vocals, pinpoint timing, and an interjection by her male backing singers - The Pipes, who revised the song but from a male perspective, much to the liking of the female fans in the audience.
Fan favourite ‘Golden’ followed the smoothly delightful ‘A Long Walk’, but the night’s biggest response came when Scott’s open letter to her current beau’s ex, ‘Gettin’ In The Way’, took shape. Acting out the lyrics - “You better back down before you get smacked down,” Jilly from Philly, removing her earrings on stage proceeded to imitate getting in the perpetrator’s face.
Finishing with her operatic number ‘He Loves Me’, there’s absolutely no question why Jill Scott was selected to take part in the Summer Series at Somerset House. Her originality, lyrical prowess, and ability to disband a niche genre and make it everybody’s is not something just anybody can do. Minus the rain, a thoroughly enjoyable evening with fellow music lovers, who for some were experiencing their first open air concert, aided in setting the tone for one of the year’s best performances, and a Somerset House show that might not be topped during the continuing Summer Series.