JOSS STONE with Eric Roberson at the Opera House, April 20. Tickets: $22.50. Attendance: 850. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
There are two ways a rising star's show can go at a big club like the Opera House . It can either scream, "Not ready for prime time in the big arena" or "This is the last time I'm playin' a club this small again." Joss Stone 's show last Tuesday definitely fell into the latter category. She's a huge talent who can only get bigger.
Minutes after the Leafs dispensed with the Senators, Stone, looking too much like Amanda Marshall for her own good, hit the stage wearing a Leafs shirt and opened with The Chokin' Kind, the lead track on her first release, The Soul Sessions. She then removed the hockey shirt and, dressed like any 10th grader in a suburban high school, swept through the tunes on the debut plus some new material.
She showed way more ease onstage than she did at her gig last year at Revival. She's now making more eye contact with the audience and even showing some honest-to-god sizzle - a little scary for a teenager.
The chops are definitely there. The life experience, however, isn't. Stone can wail with the best of this planet's divas, but she doesn't yet have a huge emotional reservoir to draw on. Her near-a-cappella rendition of the nugget Dirty Man held the entire Opera House's attention - a voice like hers can do that - but it was the virtuosity that was mesmerizing, not the passion.
Who can blame her, though? She is o nly 17 years old, fer chrissake. In a few years, when she drops a mature disc, we'll see a fully formed artist peaking at an incredibly young age.
In the meantime, if the new material is any indication, the boys at S-Curve are taking real good care of Stone's business. Songs like Jet Lag and Torn And Tattered from her second disc, due out in September, are blistering funk tunes with jazz-fusion inflections and rich backup vocals - nothing like the old-school funk of The Soul Sessions. Here's an artist who's not standing still.