St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Wed 11 Apr
A Radio 2 darling and Chris Evans breakfast show regular, Gregory Porter proved tonight why he is just that. A performance laced with talent and warmth, the jazz singer provided the diverse crowd at St David’s Hall with an early spring treat.
His band, looking like they had been plucked straight from a contemporary jazz bar in Harlem, began warming up the crowd slowly with smooth, slow numbers like Take Me To The Alley showcasing Porter’s critically acclaimed velvet-strung voice. His love of Nat King Cole was demonstrated early on, with Mona Lisa – the opening track from his most recent album Nat King Cole & Me – followed shortly by soul/jazz classic Smile. In between songs, mentions of civil rights activist and jazz poet Langston Hughes provided a mere suggestion that Porter is conscious of wider issues. We were quickly whipped back into shape with L-O-V-E, before Porter bared his soul and sung I Wonder Who My Daddy Is (another piece of common ground he shares with his musical idol).
His seminal lament Laura picked up the pace as the natural crescendo of the performance started to climax. Liquid Spirit got the crowd moving in their seats, clapping along as if part of the six-piece. Musical Genocide was the highlight of the evening, giving the purists an opportunity to marvel at the talent indulging on stage. With each solo that we were afforded, Porter gazed along in wonderment with us.
St David’s Hall was the perfect venue for this crossover giant: Cardiff residents, and those further afield, wax lyrical about the acoustics in St David’s and tonight the music proved why. As the cold Cardiff winds blew The “In” Crowd back home, it’s easy to see why Gregory Porter is revered by the music fraternity.
words BRUCE LIPSCOMB photos MORGAN DEVINE