To melt and to funk and to jazz it up. I think Gregory Porter pretty much covered this and more. He’s quite a presence: a big guy and that trademark cap. So when he strolls on after his fine, fine band has laid some grooved foundations, there is considerable appreciative and expectant applause; when he croons his first notes, the females [it was that noticeable, c’mon] melted – one in front of me laid her head on her friend’s shoulder, a musically empathetic swoon. To my left, another’s dazzled smiling was palpable. Hey, I was touched. He has the voice.
I’ve wanted to see Porter live since the beginning, and last night at Bristol he delivered on all of my hopeful expectations. He isn’t chatty on stage, but he puts all his vocal energy into the songs and covered the ‘hits’ as well as new material from his forthcoming. Indeed, I’m so glad to have heard Take Me To the Alley live because it carries weight on stage, and listening on record will resonate of that hearing.
There’s little point naming all the songs, but I did look forward to and loved 1960 What?. Wonderful. And that hooker/snippet of Papa Was a Rolling Stone! And that band! Great to see Chip Crawford on piano, and he controls with skill and talent: liked in particular a duet segment with saxophonist Tivon Pennicott where their sweet interplay was gorgeous.
All in the band got solo spots and all excelled. It takes a great band to work with a great singer. The encore was Free from Liquid Spirit – a rousing rouser – and after delivering to the crowd’s absolute delight, Porter was the first to leave the stage as the band continued playing, each eventually departing in turn until they had all gone. The ovation was for the band, but Porter obviously, yet he had long gone: I quite liked the humility of that.
My previous reviews of his work can be read here.