Michael Bublé deserves to be called the best lounge singer of this generation, and for good reason. His mastery of a song, both standards and those that come from his own pen, goes well beyond the ability to merely interpret the material. He owns it all, and his performance this past Saturday night at the BB&T Center clearly bore that out.
At age 38, this affable, amiable Canadian performer still retains a decidedly boyish and unassuming charm. Although he emerged from the shadows following a fiery eruption that signalled his arrival — suggesting we were about to witness some stereotypical Vegas-like spectacle — he quickly cut to the chase, looking supremely confident and casual, even despite his tight fitting tux.
He quickly chatted up fans and even invited a mother and daughter who held up a shiny sign to come up to the front so he read it better. Mr. Bublé is clearly quite a charmer, and he instantly had the audience swaying in the palm of his hand.
Of course, when you pick such exceptional classics to reinterpret, you’re several steps ahead already, and that was evident with the first selection, a perfect take on Peggy Lee’s “Fever” that he performed with the perfect blend of sass and seduction. His backing band was ideally suited for the task, an economical rhythm section backed by both swinging horns and soothing strings, that phased in and out depending on the song. And naturally, the crowd responded in kind, even tossing up a tiny Panthers one-piece to the stage. Those unawares of his new baby may have been puzzled, but as Bublé held it up for all to see, he offered explanation. “The greatest day of my life,” he began sincerely, was the day I found out that little boy was mine.”
Bublé tossed in several laugh lines during the show, insisting after a particularly embracing version of his hit “Home,” complete with a filmed backdrop that appeared to show family and friends posing tenderly together on a sofa, “If I sing one more ballad, I’m going to cut my own throat.”
Naturally though, he did continue to sing some ballads, including a triumphant take of “To Love Somebody” which he started from a stage set in the back of the house and sang as he walked back forward, shaking hands under the stern eyes of his security team and looking like the conquering hero celebrating a triumphant return. Likewise, a riveting take on “Burning Love” had him replicating some Elvis Presley moves, a bit of show biz schtick that was obviously inevitable given the material at hand.
The fact is, Bublé is such a natural, that all the affectation isn’t even needed. When he sings his hit “I Just Haven’t Me You Yet,” the distance between the entertainer and his audience simply melts away. Likewise, his sincere and emotional thank you to his fans for all they’ve done to enrich his life and that of his family, was touching to the point of tears, certainly rare coming from an artist of his stature. Self effacing to a fault, he nevertheless seemed to take it all in with a wink and a nod that assured everyone he aspired to remain decidedly down to earth.
Ultimately, his intent seemed to be to rally the crowd with a celebratory stance. His read of the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” could have been hokey and perfunctory as most covers of this song often are, but in this case it was accompanied by cheery visuals that illuminated the entire auditorium and an explosion of confetti that showered the house and seemed to go on forever. It was the ideal combination of songs and spectacle and it never once seemed overwrought or pretentious.
Indeed, one would be hard pressed to name a better showman, complete with smooth moves, a voice to match and a natural rapport with his audience and admirers. With all his hits, awards and accolades, this Bublé still isn’t about to burst.