Two-time Grammy winner Gregory Porter received a warm South African welcome at Kirstenbosch Gardens on Saturday evening, 21 January. The moment the jazz musician casually strolled on stage, the audience erupted with whoops, cheers and enthusiastic applause.

People came from all over the country, but mainly from Joburg (we hear he is big there), to watch the opening show of his tour, “An Intimate Evening With Gregory Porter”.

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A perfect evening for a concert, the sun setting on the blushing gardens and rocky ampitheatre set the mood for Porter’s smooth but soulful crooning. The queue, abuzz with excitement and chatter, stretched up along the slopes of the mountain, leaving people huffing and puffing en route to the back of the line.

Picture: Kate Walker

Once everyone had found a spot, they settled down with a cool beverage and some snacks. The Joburgers, who were easy to spot in their linen outfits and designer accessories, brought their A game with beautifully presented gourmet spreads and coolers of bubbles on ice. Everyone else looked on with envy before the opening act offered a welcome distraction.  

Picture: Kate Walker

Former Freshlyground songstress Zolani Mahola, who now goes by the name, The One Who Sings, serenaded the audience with one or two new compositions, some old crowd favourites, and her signature melodic acoustics and big voice. Her set was a well-received warm up before the main man hit the stage. 

Picture: Kate Walker

The picture of cool, Porter sauntered into the lights in a summer suit, a white shirt, white sneakers, and his trademark Kangol flat cap with extended face cover, which he calls his ”jazz hat”. He opened his set with “On My Way to Harlem” before he launched into “Take Me to the Alley”, a track from his 2017 Grammy Award-winning album of the same name. During the song, a rambling saxophone solo got a roaring response from the crowd and signalled the start of the night as the city lights began to twinkle and the last glow of the sun lingered on the mountain top. 

The mutual admiration between the singer and his fans was the theme of the evening. The first few notes of every song evoked a chorus of emotion rippling through Porter’s sea of admirers. From the audience singing along with the artist and hands clapping in perfect beat with the jazz band to the organist filming the crowd singing on his phone, there was a lot of love going around. At one point, Porter said, “Hearing you singing that song back to me is like my mamma hugging me”.

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Each musician on stage had their moment to shine with solo performances that were truly mind blowing and that elevated the show to a world-class event. It was clear we were in the presence of greatness. Porter was on top form from start to finish. As the stage was lit up with deep purple lights, his raspy but buttery smooth baritone voice rang out across the landscape. As the set went on, the tempo began to pick up with quick jazz riffs that had Porter punching the air and shaking his head to the frenetic beats. To the crowd’s delight, Porter even attempted a Zulu high kick while he was dancing. 

Picture: Kate Walker

Porter ended the set with his song “Our Love”, which had the rowdy crowd chanting “we want more” as the singer left the stage. After a brief moment of suspense, Porter came back smiling to perform one last song for his adoring fans. Good thing too – those Joburgers weren’t going to take “no” for an answer.

The concert was presented by Liberty and Showtime Management in association with CapeTalk and 702.

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Sunday Jazz Brunch and unlimited bubbly at the Mount Nelson

Picture: Kate Walker












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