Oporto is a special venue – and that isn’t necessarily just code for ‘quite small’. It’s an incredibly relaxed venue where band and audience meet on an even plain. There is very little capacity for stage malarkey which means you sink or swim on your performance. Jordan Mackampa is fantastic in this environment, and he isn’t alone.
The supports, Oliver Pinder and Josh Flowers hold up their end of the bargain. Oliver Pinder is joined by a small band and though the music isn’t particularly demanding, the songwriting is sharp. Pinder himself sounds a lot, a lot a lot, like Shawn Mendes. That’s probably not a compliment in Yorkshire indie-rock circles – but he has a very good voice.
Josh Flowers meanwhile goes for the confessional singer-songwriter schtick. There’s an emphasis on melody rather than structure, but the melodies are gorgeous and the choruses packed with detail. Both supports were memorable and a genuine pleasure to watch – we’d certainly be keen to see them again.
However the crowd is here for Jordan Mackampa and his set fills the performance space with atmosphere. He has a band in tow, where last time in Leeds it was just the man himself. The more muscular instrumentals do provide a rounded sound as opposed to the stark acoustic set we saw last year. While the presence of others on stage does diminish the beauty of some ballads, overall it makes for a richer listening experience.
In the end it comes back to Mackampa’s voice. The rawness of his delivery is breathtaking – and his is a cracked, broken, but nevertheless hopeful soul. Songs like ‘Battlecry’ and ‘Yours to Keep’ tremble with emotion, but it never feels overwrought or weepy.
Jordan Mackampa remains one of the most unique voices in British music and we cannot wait to hear more.