#BGReviewer: Michael Bublé
Michael Bublé emerges from the back of a neon-lit tiered stage and trips down the stairs past some thirty instrumentalists, evoking a young Dean Martin. He delivers a nostalgic ‘My Funny Valentine,’ flashes a killer smile, and begins to clap. Within eight beats, we are all clapping with him. He slides into ‘Just Haven’t Met You Yet,’ and the evening is underway.
‘An Evening With Michael Bublé’ is not just a concert. Throughout the event, you feel like Bublé is the M.C. of your own wedding, entertaining the guests, but there really for you alone. He carries the crowd, the vocals and the instrumentalists along like a Maître D, and leans into the energy of both the fans and his fellow musicians.
Bublé’s favourite part of the show, he says, is called ‘walking the tightrope.’ He sits down on the corner of the stage, turns down his earpiece says, “This could go terribly wrong,” (but it doesn’t). He chooses Maddi from Sarnia out of the crowd, pulls her up to the stage, hugs her, and they sing a rousing duet of ‘Fever.’ Ascending into the Orchestra, Bublé cajoles a violinist from London to sing for him, then hands the microphone to trumpeter Jumaane Smith. Bublé looks completely at home dancing with the backup singers while Smith strolls onto the runway of the stage belting ‘You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.’ He wraps up his own vocals with a piercing trumpet solo. Bublé is an artist who gives credit to both his fans the musicians he works with, not only verbally, which he does many times, but by celebrating them during the show. He frequently goes out of his way to interact with fans, signing pictures, shaking hands and even taking selfie videos on phones concert-goers hand up to the stage.
At sixteen, Bublé started singing in nightclubs and shares the question he asked himself at the beginning of this tour: “How can I turn a gigantic cavernous hockey arena into a nightclub?” As the pendant lights fall from the ceiling and an intimate band gathers around the mini stage at the end of the runway, his vision is realized. The evening has a distinct acoustic vibe. Much of the music he performs would be just as believable fifty years ago as it is now. The sound of the big band is clean and crisp. Bublé uses a hand-held microphone, often leaning on the mic stand. He tears up when he talks about his grandfather and their shared love of the crooners of old and later laughs at himself, saying he knows it’s hard to dance to swing because “no one has listened to it for ninety-eight years.” Even the high-tech aspects of the show, like the drop down, back-projected mid-arena screens and music videos that play during some of the artist’s mainstream radio hits feel like an augmentation of the retro theming, not a break from it.
Bublé and his team are musically flawless. The sound and lighting are impeccable. The pianist and musical director Alan Chang makes you wish fervently that you had practiced the piano just a little bit more. The passion and skill of the musicians is evident as the band follows Bublé through huge numbers like ‘Buona Sera Signorina’ and my personal surprise favourite of the night, ‘Just a Gigolo,’ featuring a wailing baritone saxophone solo.
After he leaves the stage, a swelling ovation follows and after several minutes, the orchestra begins to build, mirroring the excitement of the crowd until Bublé soars back out onto the stage and launches into ‘You’re My Everything.’ He then thanks the crowd effusively, shrugging off further applause. One last heart-melting grin straight into the camera before Michael Bublé delivers his catch phrase of the night, ‘Let’s Go!’ for the last time. A heartbreaking rendition of ‘You Were Always On My Mind,’ follows and then, as powerfully as it began, the evening is over.
It’s not hard to understand how Michael Bublé sells out massive stadiums and sold out Budweiser Gardens last night. Phenomenal stage presence and humour, a love of his audience and musicians and truly incredible musicianship made my ‘Evening With Michael Bublé’ one that I won’t forget.
Photos: Bill Woodcock