Review: Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter,
(Pizza Express Dean Street,4th July. Review by Fran Hardcastle.)

At Gregory Porter’s Pizza Express gig last week, you would have been forgiven for thinking you were in the presence of an international pop star, given the exuberant, vocally appreciated audience. As Porter explained, its the Jools Holland effect: to an American ‘you’ve sung on the BBC, you’ve arrived’. The exuberance and evident fan loyalty was more than justified.

Wayne Shorter’s Black Nile gave us a volcanic eruption from Porter, showing off a powerful sound and a thrilling knack for arresting the audience with impassioned, joyous shouts of ‘hey’ – a trademark I suspect. But he didn’t just offer fireworks. Originals from the album, Water showed a voice as rich as butter. His lyrics are picture perfect drawing deep emotions from intimate visual depictions.

The stellar backing band of Grant Windsor (piano), Geoff Gascoyne (bass) and Dave Ohm (kit) with Graeme Flowers (tpt) and Ben Castle (sax) gave superb support. Windsor played with mellifluous sensitivity on Illusion and Skylark. Flowers and Castle more than stepped up to the mark on new tunes such as the anthemic 1960 What? I’d be surprised if it doesn’t soon become a soundtrack on a TV screen near you.

New material such as the Stevie influenced Mother’s Song(for Ruthie) or Be Good left us excited to hear the next album. The moment that will stay in the memory was an a cappella rendition of Mona Lisa. Intimate. Breathtakingly beautiful. Porter’s mesmerizing pull resulted in a standing ovation. It won’t be his last.

Gregory Porter performs at Pizza Express Dean Street 7th and 8th October as part of Georgia Mancio’s voice festival.

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