Michael Buble keeps things ‘intimate’

Jazz singer Michael Buble a bit predictable, but still loved by Times Union Center audience.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

It was date night at the Times Union Center Saturday night. Michael Buble and his band was in town. His first time in an arena-sized venue in Albany, he promised to keep the show “intimate.” His boyish charm, constant chatter and warm love songs did the trick.

He opened with the Leonard Cohen song “I’m Your Man,” an unlikely match that he sings on his latest release “Call Me Irresponsible,” from where a good portion of the night’s songs came. This triggered the first of many audience shouts, “I love you Michael,” which he echoed back a few times, drawing laughs.

He slowed it down quickly in the third song with “Me and Mrs. Jones” and moved seamlessly into the night-clubbish “Fever” from his first album.

Then came the title track “Call Me Irresponsible,” which he pushed a little more than the others.

His 13-piece band, while mostly young, swings and punches as strong as any big band today. He let the band kick it around without him for a tune. It was a good touch, but every tune went somewhat the same way, with Buble starting softly, and predictably increasing until he was belting it out with a full-tilt crescendo with the band.

Buble is incredibly natural on stage. He giggles, makes fun of the band, sits cross-legged on the floor, uses words like cutie-pie, chats with audience members and remembers their names and ages later in the show.

The antics became distracting. At one point he left the stage in a fake huff. This went on for almost 10 minutes. As part of the put-on, Buble played an OK trombone, but not good enough to warrant the skit.

He went back to the music with “A World on a String,” a dependable swing tune that swelled nicely and not forced. Next he sat with his pianist to sing Willie Nelson’s ballad “You Are Always on My Mind.”

He and the band scored on “Feeling Good.” Following this, the best song of the night, his hit “Home,” fell flat. Few noticed, since it drew a standing ovation. Then came “Everything,” his other non-jazz hit.

“I can’t do any more of these shlocky tunes,” he announced, likening them to BackStreet Boys songs. He thankfully returned to what he does best — big band swing — to close the show.

Buble comes from the school of Sinatra and, more recently, Harry Connick Jr. He’s done a lot to bring these standards to yet another generation.

Filling the Times Union Center with 8,000 people is quite a feat for his style of music. Despite his good and bad, we need him to keep the train going.

Naturally 7 opened the show, seven vocalists who mimed and mimicked their instruments. For example, the drummer had a solo with cymbal crashes, snare drum cracks, a great bass drum, and a hi-hat that opened and closed, all with his voice. The same great entertainment happened with the tromboner, the rumbling bassist, the metal guitar solo, and so on. They talked a bit too much, but their talent made up for it.

Categories: Life and Arts

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