Gregory Porter has been singing for 20 years and I’m not sure why it’s taken him so long to become established as the soulful baritone who is finally bringing his awesome Jazz vocals to a wider audience. Having started out in that traditional African-American route of Gospel singing in a Baptist church (in which his mother was also a preacher), he has previously released Grammy nominated albums “Water” (in 2009) and “Be Good” in (2011). Now a packed audience is here tonight to hear him promoting his third album “Liquid Spirit”. Like his previous albums, the current album is steeped in his Blues, Gospel and traditional Jazz roots, with some great playing and phenomenal vocal performances.
His band perfectly complement the vocals. Consisting of drums, double bass, piano and saxophone, they each get a chance to solo and show just how well they can play. Melding the improvisation of Jazz with funky riffs so that it’s kept danceable as well as being great to just listen to.
Gregory Porter’s songs cover love, loss, pain and politics, and his set tonight is a nice spread of songs across all his albums to date. So we get to hear “Liquid Spirit”, “No Love Dying”, “Painted On Canvas”, “On My Way To Harlem”, “Be Good (Lion’s Song”), “Musical Genocide” and “Hey Laura”. He elicits a great response after each song ends, the sold out and appreciative audience calling out song titles and shouting “we love you Gregory”, something that keeps him grinning throughout the set as he amiably answers back.
He encores with his undeniable classic “1960 What”, and it’s a great ending to a hugely enjoyable show. In these days of autotune and other lame vocal effects it’s always great to hear someone who can actually sing and loves doing so, and it’s also great to realise that in Gregory Porter we have a vocalist in the tradition of Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Al Green and Bill Withers which is no band thing.