Singer Michael Buble is playing arenas instead of theaters on his current “Crazy Love” tour, but the Canadian crooner hasn’t sacrificed the good-natured intimacy that has made him a star.
Performing to a capacity audience of about 12,000 at KeyArena last night (April 3), Buble made the huge show feel up-close-and-personal, even venturing into the audience for a spotlight solo.
I’ll bet that just about everyone in the room — even the guys who got dragged to the show by wives or girlfriends — would have jumped at the chance to buy the singer a congratulatory drink afterward.
Buble, 34, may not have the distinctive pipes of a Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. or Tony Bennett, but he can belt out tunes from the Great American Songbook with an easy-going charm that makes the ladies swoon.
Seriously, the guy can sing. And during the final moments of the show, he pulled an old Tony Bennett stunt, singing the final verse of “A Song for You” sans microphone.
What’s amazing about Buble is how he has introduced an old-school, swinging style of music to a young, mostly female audience, with great success. (But we always knew that ol’ black magic was hip, right?)
One obsessive female fan planted herself at the edge of the stage and waved her hands at Buble the entire show. He played it cool, teasing her a bit and politely suggesting she go to her seat, but his private thought may have been, “Where security?”
Buble, dressed in a dark suit, was otherwise relaxed and cheerful throughout the show. And boyishly suave.
“It’s nice to be home — my home away from home,” he said of Seattle.
Whenever Buble plays Seattle, he brings along a contingent of friends and family, who filled a couple of rows of seats. Among them were his grandfather, a retired plumber who got Buble small singing gigs when Buble was a boy, and a 7-year-old nephew who got up on stage with his famous uncle and seemed unnerved by the size of the crowd
Buble told a funny story about driving with his mom down to Bellingham from British Columbia when he was a kid and returning through customs with as many clothing items as his mom could wear.
“She looked like the Michelin man,” Buble quipped.
Buble kicked off the show with a brassy “Cry Me a River” (a classic song rarely sung by a male) and “All of Me.” “Georgia,” the Ray Charles classic, was dedicated to the aforementioned grandfather, who stood and waved when Buble called on him from the stage.
Buble announced that he is engaged to an Argentinean woman, pointing to a ring and explaining that it is customary in Argentina for men to wear engagement rings. Customary or not, his fiancee must have demanded it of the singer, whose female fans can be a bit over-the-moon about him. His announcement brought a collective sigh.
Backing Buble was his talented 13-piece band, featuring two Seattleites: alto sax player Rob Wilkerson and trumpeter Jumaane Smith, who played from a spot in the audience late in the show. Read more about the band here.
The sloped stage put the band on full display, and multiple video screens showed numerous closeups. Giant columns at the rear were a nice touch, giving the production a vintage Vegas look.
Buble is no Michael Jackson, but he did a killer version of “Billie Jean,” right down to the crotch-grabbing and fancy footwork. And his version of “Twist and Shout” was wildly fun, with beach balls tossed into the crowd.
There were plenty of other classics in the show. The Sinatra hits “Come Fly With Me” and “I’ve Got the World on a String” were delightful. Also fun were “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “For Once in My Life” and “Heartache Tonight.”
Buble paid tribute to a boyhood favorite, Billy Vera and the Beaters, and their sole hit, “At This Moment.”
He closed his main set with the recent hit “Haven’t Met You Yet,” and was invited back for an entire of “Feeling Good,” “Me and Mrs. Jones” and “A Song for You.”
The opening act was a wonderful surprise: all-male, New York City a cappella septet Naturally 7, whose ability to mimic the sounds of real instruments — drums, bass, harmonica, violin, etc. — amazed the audience.
Blending soul, jazz, R&B, gospel and beat-boxing, the group quickly won over the crowd, which reacted to each song with whoops and applause. In June, the group plans to release a new album featuring a song recorded with Buble.
To read more about Buble, visit his Web site.
What did you think of the show?