Crowd gets ‘Mad Love’

JoJo: soulful, vulnerable, unforgettable


Adria Watson

JoJo on her Mad Love Tour Feb. 19 at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.

Adria Watson, [email protected]

JoJo ended an impossibly magical night in the most down-to-earth way, by greeting fans with a simple thank you. A rainy two-hour wait did not deter devotees — some of whom still buzzing with energy, serenading her with her songs — to get to meet the singer following her concert in San Francisco Sunday, Feb. 19.

Returning from an extended hiatus since her last full-length album, 2006’s “The High Road,” JoJo brought down the house at the fourth stop on her headlining tour — titled after her 2016 album “Mad Love” — boldly making a statement that she’s back and better than ever.

The night began with newcomer Stanaj dominating the stage at the Regency Ballroom with his powerful vocals and infectious stage presence. He brought the crowd to life and set the tone for the rest of the night with songs such as “Ain’t Love Strange” and “Goddess,” slowing it down with panty-dropper “Romantic,” among others.

The sequined jumpsuit JoJo donned was not the only thing shining throughout the night. Her entire performance from start to finish kept the audience engaged and alive. No matter if the songstress performed older hits from “The High Road” and her eponymous album “JoJo” or tunes from “Mad Love,” fans were singing along to every song as if they wrote the lyrics themselves.

Three songs into the show, JoJo brought the majority of the audience back to their younger years by performing “Leave (Get Out)” — the anthem of many 10-year-olds singing into their microphone-brush. But she didn’t stop there, the singer continued to hit the crowd right in their feelings with a short rendition of “Baby It’s You” and a mash-up of my 6th grade anthem “Like That” with a more recent number, “Like This.”

Although the reminiscing was one of the many highlights of the night, the most resonant moment came with her performance of “I Am” — which she declared was dedicated to her fans. The song talks about self-worth and self-doubt, which most 20-year-olds who are still trying to figure out their identity, can relate to. The live version cuts deeper than it’s studio counterpart when you personally hear JoJo’s angelic vocal stylings as well as being in that moment and realizing you’ve been in the same mentality the song touches on.

Aside from the personal connections during her “I Am.” performance, one of the more emotional moments of the night was when she sang “Music,” a song dedicated to her late father, which she performed next to an empty seat.

What makes JoJo special is how soulful her voice is and how unbelievable the runs she produces are when she’s giving her all in a song. But what made her performance of “Music” standout was how the audience could feel the vulnerability in her voice and sense that she wasn’t just singing another song on the setlist.

She took the time to humbly introduce her phenomenal band members during a show stopping performance of “Mad Love” — mashed-up with Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love,” and followed with an encore performance of “Good Things.” As the finale came to a close, the crowd excitedly expressed to one another how astounding the shows entirety was.

JoJo not only brought her extremely under-appreciated vocal talent to this show, but also a lively presence that I’ve only witnessed in-person from Beyoncé — a feat I didn’t think any artist in my generation could match.

If you tell people you’re going to a JoJo concert, some of the main reactions you’ll get are “she’s still making music?” or “I didn’t know she was still in the game.” But lo-and-behold, her live performance not only showed how much heart and dedication she puts into her art but also how she is still very much apart of this industry and she’s not here to play.

Definitely keep your eye on what has yet to come from this powerhouse. The bar is set, and it’s high.