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Gregory Porter at Westonbirt Arboretum: the antidote to an inclement summer’s evening

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Gregory Porter is one of the UK’s favourite contemporary American jazz artists, with a string of hit albums and industry awards to his name.

The singer songwriter is a well known name in Gloucestershire. He first performed at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival back in 2012, and now he’s the festival’s artistic curator. So it only seems fitting to have him perform down our neck-of-the-woods at Westonbirt Arboretum, as part of the Forest Live concerts. 

IMG 8819 | Gregory Porter at Westonbirt Arboretum: the antidote to an inclement summer’s evening
Gregory Porter entertained the crowds at Westonbirt Pic: Faye Hatcher

Cast your mind back to last Thursday. Can you remember what the weather was like? It turned out to be quite a warm and sunny day, so naturally I dressed for a pleasant summer’s evening for the Porter gig. Picnic chair in one hand (I’m fairly old), and a cropped black leather jacket in the other; that’s all I thought I could possibly need.

IMG 8817 1 | Gregory Porter at Westonbirt Arboretum: the antidote to an inclement summer’s evening
Faye and Louise at Westonbirt

Porter’s opening words to the crowd; ‘Aren’t the roads round here narrow? Not even wide enough for a bike to pass!’. The audience roared! Porter is a tower of a man, dressed in a light blue linen suit with his signature headwear. His voice is powerful but sweet, mellow and velvety, like a bar of Galaxy. I’d never seen him perform live before and I’m not altogether familiar with his music, but his delivery was consistently brilliant and every note flawless. As too were his band of musicians. So much talent! It made me weep thinking about how much creativity and genius on just one stage. 

IMG 8821 1 | Gregory Porter at Westonbirt Arboretum: the antidote to an inclement summer’s evening
Gregory Porter at Westonbirt under the night sky Pic: Faye Hatcher

As dusk fell, so did the temperatures and the weather began to turn; wind and then rain. The daytime sunshine was a distant memory, but Porter’s warm and soulful voice continued to emanate from the stage. A member of our party managed to commandeer four extremely large bin bags from a stallholder, which we used as a makeshift windshield, and the covers from our camping chairs, we wore as rain hats. Perhaps he was looking out from the stage thinking, “eccentric Brits!”, but nothing was going to spoil our enjoyment of Porter’s sunny performance. 

IMG 20240706 WA0004 | Gregory Porter at Westonbirt Arboretum: the antidote to an inclement summer’s evening
Pauline Lynch and Sean McDonald travelled from Ireland to watch Gregory Porter

I’ve been to quite outdoor gigs over the years, and it’s good to acknowledge when a sound system, sounds good! In fact, it was excellent! Not one note was lost in the ether. Add to that, posh proper flushing loos, delicious food, and a hot drinks kiosk. Despite the weather, it was a wonderful night of jazz. Next time, I will remember to dress for our English summers. 

Did you go to any of the Forest Live concerts over the weekend? Who did you see and what did you think?

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