I’m not sure if it’s the warm dim light dappling the café, (the kind of light that makes you search for a fireplace) the constantly smiling staff, or guarantee of great music and fresh food that makes everyone sink into their chairs and smile. But everyone does, and it creates an easiness that makes you feel like everyone in there ‘knows your name’.
With such a scene set, it’s no surprise that sharing a table with strangers felt comfortable and enjoyable. This lovely couple didn’t actually know our names (that would have been pretty freaky) but they did by the end of the night – along with some of our best travel stories and cocktail tips.
Before Colin Dudman and Friends began, the ensemble of acoustic instruments sitting in the corner looked impressive. From my front row vantage point the double bass looked huge and the inclusion of a real piano heralded the trio’s dedication to achieving an authentic acoustic sound. A dedication I was even more impressed by at the end of the night when four strong men strained to heave it away. In fact, I didn’t leave until everything was packed away…including half the tables. Café Portico seriously feels like that house you never want to leave; a place where you can never outstay your welcome. Even when you do!
Colin Dudman and Friends’ sound was complex. To sit back and bask in it, to witness a sound that could only possibly be achieved as a result of years of dedication, was humbling. There were no three chord charmers in this set. Each song was masterfully executed, and my front row spot allowed me to observe the impressive finger work and skilful use of a microphone strapped to a violin, allowing the crazily talented player to sing at the same time - as if he didn’t have enough to do!
I thought about this trio’s set later that night while dancing on the Lola Lo dance floor (bumping up the average age by a fair whack!) and enjoying the free flowing bongo player’s improvised beats. While this may be a strange place for a reflective moment, it made me think: while a DJ and bongo player ‘going with the flow’ is enjoyable, it’s also rewarding to sit back sometimes and enjoy masters at work – even if they exist outside the realms of your CD collection.