‘I do not agree this is not for me…musical genocide.’ Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit album.
If you were lucky enough to be sitting in the Lyric theatre last month, you would have been taken away from Manchester’s grey drizzle and rain and transcended to the beauty of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Accompanied by a refined blend of soul, rhythm and blues and jazz, The Lowry played host once again to the Grammy-Award winner Gregory Porter.
There was a roar of applause and excitement as soon as the mighty six-foot-plus; former line-backer took to the stage to perform his first hit No Love Dying. Taken from the award winning album Liquid Spirit, the song beautifully amalgamates a modern R&B love song and places sincere, heart-felt lyrics with smooth jazz undertones. The audience are out of their seats to appreciate Porter’s recognition for classics like Ray Charles’ Hit the Road Jack and the African-American folk song Wade in the Water.
The jazz singer’s charismatic charm does not go unnoticed. Dressed head to toe in a suave grey suit, along with his trade mark ‘jazz hat’ he serenades an audience of nearly 2000 with jokes and playful banter. The crowd reciprocate his humour with applause and laughter as they eagerly await his next track Hey Laura.
Fans of the Brooklyn-based singer will know Porters story is a sad one. Growing up in California in an area riddled with racism and poverty and the later loss of his mother, every lyric tonight is projected with an honesty and sincerity that has become almost unrecognisable in this musical era. It is tracks such as Wolfcry that captivate the audience, leading them to a rapture of silence. As the music plays on, the energy turns to a quiet appreciation. Looking around the auditorium now, there is hardly a dry eye in sight.
Porter’s undeniable talent and ability to flawlessly deliver classics such as Sentimental Reasons by the late Sam Cooke would make it easy to compare the two. However tonight the 43 year-old has proved, yes he can scat like Nat King Cole and roar as loud as Louis Armstrong, but he deserves to be recognised as a jazz king in his own right.
The singer was accompanied by his band which saw extraordinary performances from the talented saxophonist Yosuke Sato, bassist Aaron James, drummer Emanuel Harrold and pianist Chip Crawford.
It is hard to believe that Porter was only recognised for his talent at the age of 40. Tonight his baritone vocals and rich lyrics have delivered a performance which can only be described as beautiful. The walls of the theatre will undeniably still echo the chants from Saturday night, as the music industry makes way for the modern day King of Jazz that is Gregory Porter.
TNT News Leanna Smith