If you’re as busy as Andra Day, you too might wear pajamas on stage.
Day had a red-eye flight to catch after her Tuesday night concert at Observatory North Park to New York’s Radio City Hall for Hilary Clinton’s “I’m With Her” concert. She also has recently become a new face for Marc Jacobs’ spring campaign.
Whether the silk, black-and-white polka dot jammies, paired with her signature head scarf and giant hoop earrings, were specifically intended for travel comfort or just a supremely bold fashion choice is unclear. What is clear: Day was set on keeping it real all night.
She is music’s new “It Girl,” and San Diego has every reason to beam with pride over the soul, jazz and blues artist. Day graduated from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in 2003, filmed videos singing in her mom’s apartment in Chula Vista and passed out mixtapes on Mission Beach, which she referenced as an important mark on her journey during Tuesday night’s show.
Since her debut album “Cheers to the Fall” released in August of last year, 31-year-old Day sang her Grammy-nominated single “Rise Up” at the White House, starred in an Apple commercial with Stevie Wonder and performed alongside Ellie Goulding at the 2016 Grammy Awards, just to name a few of her recent triumphs.
So when Day returned to San Diego, things obviously got a little emotional for her. She gave shout-outs to her family, to Clairemont and to Southeast San Diego. The widely diverse crowd ate it all up.
After purring through her opening song “Forever Mine,” howling her emotions through “Gold,” covering one of her inspirations, Nina Simone’s song “Mississippi Goddamn” and belting out “Honey or Fire” and “Gin and Juice (Let Go My Hand),” Day found a new way to get comfortable with the audience, as if the pajamas weren’t endearing enough.
“Do you guys mind if I take my makeup off?” Day sweetly asked the crowd, wiping off her dark lipstick, eyeliner and foundation on stage with a towelette. “I just feel like a hypocrite if I sing this song and I got a face full of cake cake cake cake. My makeup artist is panicking backstage right now,” she laughed.
What followed was a soulful, mellow and jazzy cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “No Make Up,” a huge testament to Day’s range and artistry, not to mention a flawless bare face beaming with confidence. (Neutrogena, we’d recommend considering a sponsorship here).
Day shined brightest in her darkest and most painful songs, “Rearview” and “Red Flags,” performed with only her keyboardist and backup singer, Charles Jones.
“These two songs are very reflective for me. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I thought it was important to talk about them on this album. I haven’t played them live yet,” she said as she launched into a few minutes of pure Billie Holiday-style bliss.
The flow faltered for a moment during covers of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” and “Thriller,” which are undeniably fun to hear, but unnecessary for a force as big as Day who becomes more powerful performing her own songs with the same gusto.
Day left the stage momentarily to spotlight her bandmate Jones, a spellbinding singer who covered Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” “You will leave here changed after what you hear,” Day said of Jones. She was right.
The pure gooey richness of Day’s voice sustained through her more well-known hits “Rise Up,” “Cheers to the Fall,” “City Burns” and just one encore song, squeezed in hurriedly as she laughed that she had about 30 minutes to catch her flight. “I Want It All,” the song currently featured on Diet Coke commercials, closed out the evening, and off Day went to board her late-night flight, pajamas still intact.
Emerging artist Saleka Night Shyamalan opened for Andra Day.