After three consecutive nights at the Royal Albert Hall, London in the summer Gregory Porter returned there again on December 13. Porter and his band have been getting in the Christmas mood since his new album Christmas Wish was released in November. This was a perfect venue for him, a superb intimate setting with amazing acoustics. It very much suited Porter’s silky voice and his jazz band, backed also by Troy Miller leading the Kingdom Orchestra.
The timing, just before Christmas, was perfect too. It allowed Porter to easily accommodate songs from his new album, alongside other yuletide favourites and his own great music, on the set list for the evening. He opened with “Little Drummer Boy”, which nicely set the Christmas scene. That was immediately followed by Porter and his outstanding band in a lively and stunning seasonal adaption of his own “Liquid Spirit/Christmas Spirit.”
We’re only a couple of songs in at this point but already the band supporting Porter were showing their true jazz-based abilities in great style. Saxophonist Tivon Pennicott had some amazing solos throughout the evening and Porter was generous to him and the rest of his band. Sharing the spotlight and applause frequently as he watched the band admiringly.
During the show's first half, Porter raised the Christmas level up a notch. Porter's amazing voice on “Silent Night”, with his smooth tones and the lush strings from the Kingdom Orchestra, made for more magical minutes. Just before the interval, he introduced Philly Fraser and a choir from the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Porter is collaborating with them on a new single “Make Believe” raising funds for the charity War Child. It was another very memorable part of the night with great credit to the youngsters in the choir and their soloist.
Gregory Porter and his band jazz it up
The second half of the show opened with “Revival Song” mixing gospel and jazz tones brilliantly in a rousing live version to a very receptive crowd. Porter and his band continued in great form with more of his top tracks interspersed with a Christmas song or two. Past Porter favourites, his own version of his hit with Disclosure “Holding On”, the lead song from his new album “Christmas Wish” were all included.
The band at times jousted and tried to outdo each other with their musical prowess as they riffed on solos, inserted Christmas themes into themselves and clearly had fun doing so. Porter again giving them all the space and spotlight they needed and deserved. A standing ovation followed,often inevitable, but very much warranted on the night. “The Christmas Song” was a brilliant encore and then the night was done. Porter undoubtedly celebrated Christmas and his music in style and with all that jazz.
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