JoJo kicks off Leaks, Covers & Mixtapes Tour at House of Blues Anaheim
Lucas Villa

Pop singer-songwriter JoJo launched her Leaks, Covers & Mixtapes Tour at the House of Blues Anaheim on May 29. For the intimate and sold-out event, she performed a whole show of underrated, fan-favorite songs recorded during a tough time in her career.

JoJo is most known for her early 2000s hits like "Leave (Get Out)" and "Too Little Too Late." As her star was starting to rise, setbacks with her label Blackground Records led to a stalled career by the end of the decade. Locked in a contract with Blackground, who was letting JoJo's talent go to waste, the only way she could release music outside the imprint was through mixtapes like 2010's Can't Take That Away From Me and 2012's Agápē. During that time, JoJo also recorded tons of music for her third studio album under the working titles All I Want is Everything and Jumping Trains. Most of that material went unused but later ended up online for fans to hear. In 2014, she was able to break free from Blackground and sign with Atlantic where she made her long-awaited return with 2016's Mad Love record.

JoJo toured the Mad Love album last year, but this year she booked smaller venues like the Parish Room at the House of Blues Anaheim for the Leaks, Covers & Mixtapes Tour. This was truly a fan event so she opted to be closer to them while finally performing their favorite hidden gems. Like Kylie Minogue's 2012 Anti Tour, JoJo pulled together a setlist devoid of her hit singles and comprised mostly of songs from the time her career was in limbo (she also performed the track "Limbo" that touched on those struggles). To try to get through such a lengthy period in her life, JoJo sang some of the 24 songs in full while breezing through a few as live snippets or musical interludes.

From going back to a stifled time in her career, JoJo sounded like a caged bird freed with soaring performances of songs like "Paper Airplanes" and "Boy Without a Heart." Things later got sexy with "In the Dark" and "Demonstrate" and sassy with "The Other Chick." One of the most poignant moments came with her cover of Aaliyah's "Rock the Boat" that she dedicated to the late singer and her friend, Leah Labelle, who passed away in January. JoJo was signed to Blackground shortly after Aaliyah's death and noted how the label hasn't allowed their music on streaming services, but that she will keep her memory alive with the live cover. Her dark and defiant version of Drake's "Marvin's Room" also made the cut - middle fingers and all.

The Leaks, Covers & Mixtapes Tour was a real gift to fans who have stuck by JoJo throughout the years. To see the 27-year-old artist turn one of the most difficult times in her life into a party and celebration of her pop perseverance was everything.