JoJo’s long and sordid history with record label drama has kept her off the airwaves for years, but her latest tringle — a trio of soulful, bodied R&B tracks that debuted in August — turned her into the year’s most welcome comeback. Now on a tour that’s sold out at nearly every stop, JoJo is thriving on stage in ways only her die-hard fans expected.
Packed tightly into New York’s Marlin Room at Webster Hall, an off-shoot of the famed venue’s main ballroom, a few hundred fans crowded in on Tuesday night to catch a glimpse of the 24-year-old star. It was only the tour’s second stop, but past legal battles and music-less months had no bearing, as she ran through her mid-aughts hits like “Leave (Get Out),” “Baby It’s You,” and “Too Little Too Late” with the rich voice that made her famous at 12 years old.
Thanking fans and her new home, Atlantic Records, over and over, JoJo aimed to make her appreciation known. “I was depressed,” she told the crowd of her time spent away from music. “So depressed. You all got me through it.”
But rather than slam Blackground and rehash her story — she’s explained her side over and over in her recent press blitz — JoJo gave the fans what they wanted, which, in part, included a cover of Jeremih’s “Planes” and her beloved remix of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room (Can’t Do Better).” Calling out “F— that new girl that you like so bad” with more swagger than Drizzy musters on the track, she threw her hands over her head, and pointed her face to the ceiling. She could have shouted the lyrics in Madison Square Garden with the same reach.
Throughout the show, JoJo spoke of being insecure and lacking confidence while writing her new tracks. “I want to be honest with you,” she told the crowd. But her message was best heard when she karate kicked her way through “When Love Hurts,” one of the songs from this year’s tringle. “When love hurts, that’s how you know it’s real,” she sang, thrusting her leg straight into the crowd.
The delivered strength was a solid reminder that JoJo is back and we’re all ears.
The “I Am Jojo” tour continues thru December. See a full list of dates.