Jesse & Joy uplift with love at The Wiltern

Jesse & Joy played a spectacular Friday show at The Wiltern to mostly Spanish-speaking fans who adore the duo, evidenced by singing along to many popular tunes the brother-sister act has released since in 2006. They harmonized beautifully, Joy playing guitar and Jesse switching off between guitar and piano for an uplifting showcase of raw talent and authenticity that comes through in their lyrics and melodies but also in the sense that their songs encompass all of the best of Latin music —from pop to rock to folk. Los Angeles-based American-Chilean singer Francisca Valenzuela opened and made an impact, belting her new piano-pop tune “Donde Se Llora Cuando Se Llora?”

Red and blue light twinkled during Jesse y Joy‘s opening intro, with the siblings taking the stage with three musicians who played bass, drums and keys. A few songs from their 2022 album Clichés made the set list including opening “da da da” tune “Imagina,” while the Mexican stars were center stage with Joy singing and smiling, while Jesse harmonized on a headset mic. She was decked in a red leopard outfit with a zebra shirt and Jesse’s orange pants, white shirt and hat rounded out the colorful look. The harmonies continued beautifully on “Dueles,” with both singers smiling while the musicians were covered in red lights. The crowd sang along with passion and Joy gave the fans a moment on the final refrain. The duo shined on pop-rock tune “Ya No Quiero,” fitting nicely into the current 90s rock revival happening right now in popular music, with Joy belting on the melody; both she and Jesse played guitar and Jesse was joined by the bassist for a rousing guitar break. The band encouraged fans to clap on the feel-good “Chocolate,” with lively instrumentation and Joy’s voice soaring under green and yellow hues.

Photo by Michael Menachem

Jesse y Joy greeted their Los Angeles fans and asked how everyone was in Spanish, followed by the beautiful ballad “Respirar” as the ensemble was flooded in blues. Jesse’s guitar complimented Joy’s amazing vocal, emptying her heart and soul into the mic and earning applause midway through. Fans joined in on “La De La Mala Suerte,” with Jesse playing the keys with neon yellow outlining the piano. Jesse stood at the keys halfway through the thrilling power ballad and Joy crushed her vocal while on guitar, followed by huge cheers. The gentle, folk-rock ballad “Llegaste tú” had moments of blues, with fans singing along gleefully. Jesse knelt down for a guitar instrumental and Joy enjoyed a final soulful run.

The keyboardist came to the front of stage on the piano and the other musicians joined Jesse y Joy for one of the most magical moments of the night, which was a medley of lovely songs starting with “Me Quiero Enamorar”. What felt like an intimate living room performance included the siblings seated next to one another with Jesse on guitar and the drummer singing three-part harmony with J&J. It was one of the best of the night, with dramatic piano, voices blending richly and the musicians got the crowd to snap. It was followed with a little more rhythm on “Adiós” with the drummer on a hand drum, then a bit more folky on “Un Besito Más” with finger lights held up by fans, provided on seats from Jesse y Joy. Finally “10 Mil Vidas” concluded the stripped-down section with a heartfelt harmonica moment closing it out from Jesse.

Photo by Michael Menachem

2022 tune “Sonreír” had Jesse singing the powerful ballad solo on the edge of the stage, with dramatic emphasis and a bit of the muffled, vocoder effect just like the recording. Jesse was back on the keys and Joy was center stage for the prayerlike ballad “Me Soltaste,” joined by fans singing just about every word. The feel-good “Con Quién Se Queda El Perro” brought the tempo back up, with Joy leaning on her brother’s shoulder for moments with her hand and the energy continued for the happy, Latin-fusion tune “Mi Tesoro.” Jesse lost the shirt at the keys for “Llorar” and the place roared for the uplifting ballad with fans joining in. Jesse was center stage on acoustic guitar for “Te Esperé” with his sister, as the fans sang along to the popular ballad, echoing Joy’s effortless vocal with some call-and-response “oh ohs.”

The mesmerizing production of “Tanto” kicked off the huge hit which was elevated with a quiet hum of the crowd singing along. Jesse y Joy’s early 2006 rock song “Espacio sideral” (“Outer Space”) included Jesse hitting some beautiful chords and wonderful vocals from Joy on the ballad. “Ecos De Amor” proved to be a total anthem, with Joy conducting the audience to repeat the chorus at the end. For the duo’s encore, Joy was back on stage in a black J&J t-shirt with a simple ponytail, playing guitar and Jesse was still shirtless but now on drums. The drummer was on guitar at the front of the stage with the bassist for danceable Latin-pop tune “3 A.M.” The mid-tempo was a total party tune, with Jesse taking the 2nd verse and the whole crowd singing and dancing along under multi-colored lights. Jesse y Joy even danced, spinning one another around. “We love you,” said Jesse, “You guys rock! Viva México!” They concluded with the powerful “Corre!”, essentially giving the crowd the entire first chorus to sing. Jesse was on the keys for the heartfelt pop ballad and the entire Wiltern audience was singing along, with Joy on stage giving everyone some chills to take with them into the night.

Words and Images by Michael Menachem