Gregory Porter – Live Review – Leeds Arena

Gregory Porter Leeds 2018

By @Steve Crabtree, April 2018

The fantastic FD Arena in Leeds never fails to get the greats on its stage. And when Gregory Porter is in town, you make sure you get your hands on a ticket.

The mood at the Arena is one of subtle excitement. There’s people here of all ages; congregating for refreshments and taking their seats. I’d say it’s mainly a 45-55-year-old demographic, and there’s a very happy-chilled vibe in the air.

So, the main man himself coolly walks on stage. Trademark modified flat cap on head, and looking incredibly dapper. As the applause dies a little, he breaks in to ‘Holding On’, and immediately we’re all the better for being here. That voice; the soft, soothing, effortless blanket of vocal glides over the entire Arena and makes us all feel comfortable.

And with the superb acoustics in the FD Arena, we’re in for a great evening.

Gregory Porter Leeds 2018

“The man is class”

Before Gregory Porter begins his second song, he introduces us to his entire band. Something quite unusual in that, rather than leaving it towards the end.  However, as the show continues it’s clear that he’s not there to hog the limelight. When he’s not using his voice, he steps away from the mic, and allows the trumpet player, the bass player, the drummer or the pianist take our attention. Straight away, we know it’s about them as well as him.

The man is class, and this shows in all he does.

Porter and his band rely on their talents alone to please every one of us. There’s no gimmicks, no crazy light show, and no attitude.  A very simplistic lighting set up, which changes subtly with the mood is all we need against a plain back drop. Occasional minimal effects beam on to the back curtain, but in essence it’s an intimate jazz set-up in a large arena.

Gregory Porter Leeds 2018

“Emotionally charged”

And the audience are in awe. Well known songs such as ‘Take Me To The Alley’ are sweetly sung. ‘Laura’ is beautiful and my song of the evening. His cover of ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ is emotionally charged, following on from ‘I Wonder Who My Daddy Is”, a sad tune based on true life.

I’m really overwhelmed with how good tonight is. Jazz music is something that I appreciate, but don’t listen to enough. Porter, and his fellow artists have made me vow to change that. The talent up on the stage holds no bounds. And I can’t get over how simple it is for Gregory Porter to sing in the way he does.

After a near two and a half hour set, which has flown by, it’s time for Porter and the band to leave the stage. I make my way out of the Arena somewhat enriched. I don’t think I’ve ever had a smoother evening in my life. And if anything ever comes close, tonight’s wonderful show will take some beating.

Images: Erik Umphery


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