Gregory Porter @ Eventim Apollo, April 28th 2016
I had no idea just how much of an impact this concert would have on me. It was a beautiful spring evening and I was told earlier in the week by my wife that a surprise was lined up for me. I didn't even know where I was hedaing to that evening! My wife said she had tickets for an event, and so she began to type the address into our sat nav, and off we went. I followed the directions. We passed Hanger Lane, and headed over to West London, approaching Shepherd's Bush. Was it the Shepherd's Bush Empire? No! Onwards we continued towards Hammersmith roundabout, and the infamous 'you have arrived' soon followed from the guiding Sat Nav. I looked to my left and there was the Hammersmith Apollo, with Gregory Porter's name in lights. I was so excited, I couldn't believe where I was. I had played his music before on radio shows in the past and had bought previous projects, albums. 'Liquid Spirit' was big in the UK. The magnitude of what I was about to witness, even I wasn't prepared for.
Kandice Springs was the support act for the show, she was brilliant. There was a short break until Gregory was due on stage but to me it felt like an age. I was anxious, the Apollo was packed and someone sitting a few seats away typified what I was feeling, mumbling 'where are you Gregory.' That's how excited we all were.
Soon after, Gregory Porter took to the stage with his musicians: Emanuel Harrold (Drums), Tivon Pennicott (Saxophone), Chip Crawford (Piano), Jahmal Nichols (Bass) and Ondrej Pivec (Organ).
'Holding On' opened the concert, I was captivated immediately. There were songs I didn't know, there were songs I knew. I was loving every second. I was captured by the musicianship of the band, and moved by Gregory's commanding voice. The songs played out, and there were also many moments of improvisation. It felt like musical freedom! 'Musical Genocide' stood out for me, the little switch of drum pattern by Emanuel Harrold, was amazing. The energy of '1960 What' was something else. True musicianship.
Just like when I had seen Paco Fernandez and his band in Ibiza, I began thinking of myself and my own musical values: what sets my soul on fire, what moves me. Live musicianship, chords, solos, change of tempos, no rules! I had settled in previous years for something which wasn't me, and it was emotional thinking about just how much I was being restricted in my career. I needed to change that. This live concert moved me a great deal. Gregory Porter and his musicians soundtracked a period of time which was extremely difficult for my wife and I, and I'll forever be grateful to their incredible performance. So much so, I took to instagram to contact them and express what this meant to me, several times.
There is no doubt that it was one of two converts which sparked something inside of me, which wanted to pursue the live element of music once again. I began playing the guitar at the age of 10. Musical instruments and the natural way of playing music was always with me, but I felt that I lost my way for many years.
I will speak about the Paco Fernandez concert more in another blog, but on the day of April 28th, 2016 at the Eventim Apollo, Gregory Porter and his band produced a performance which will remain in my memory for as long as I live.