By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III – “The People’s Critic”
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As the full-house crowd at Madison Square Garden eagerly awaited last Wednesday evening’s arrival of the star, the American flag hung proudly from the ceiling right beside the banner of Michael Bublé’s Canadian homeland. During the non-stop, two-plus hours that would follow, Mr. Bublé would abundantly prove why his astonishing talent has made him every inch a citizen of the world.
His sensational vocal artistry would combine with the brilliance of the three-tiered onstage orchestra featuring some three dozen of the world’s finest musicians, all elegantly dressed in formal attire. Technical wizardry would enhance the evening throughout, with eye-popping visual excitement that would feature multi-colored lighting, ever-changing kaleidoscopic effects, and multi-screen projections from every angle that would constantly surround the star. It would all frame a delightful night of music to linger long in memory.
From the outset the collective mood in the massive arena was a reflection of the day’s relief, following the long-awaited arrival of simply beautiful summer weather in Manhattan after what had been a brutal recent heatwave across the nation. While the main staging area was at one end of the arena, that stage was connected right out into the middle of the audience via a long ramp reminiscent of Miss America Pageants in days of yore. That enabled Bublé to move freely from the main stage into the middle of the audience, and to even do some jazzy segments at center stage surrounded by his fans and a core group of his finest musicians. If the crowd was in an upbeat mood, so was the star as he opened the show with a thunderous and pulsing rendition of one of his signature tunes, “Feeling Good.” Then it was on to the snazzy and optimistic hit, “Haven’t Met You Yet,” with the star prancing about the stage like a dancer and exploding with infectious joy. With comic flair he joked with the audience about the high cost of the show tickets required to accommodate his growing family, quipping, “Who knows how much bribes will cost getting my three kids into college?”
Without skipping a beat he brought the piercing power of his voice to an absolutely thrilling, “My Funny Valentine,” with the orchestra glowing amid rosy pastel lighting as the entire stage was embraced by a neon rainbow. Just as suddenly came the bright transition to a sensational and finger-snapping, “I Only Have Eyes for You,” that seemed a perfect demonstration of vocal control. Then came a beautiful performance of an early personal Bublé favorite of my own with the seductive Latin rhythms of the haunting, “Sway.”
During a momentary respite, Bublé shared stories of the beloved grandfather he always credits with having inspired his love for music of the Great American Songbook. But then, with seemingly endless energy, he was soon whirling across the mid-audience ramp with the bouncing delights of, “Such a Night,” and moving on to still more perpetual motion during a jazzy and hot, “Up the Lazy River.” There was old-style, brassy big band fun, as the guys in the orchestra echoed each line of Bublé’s lush delivery of, “When You’re Smiling.” There would be a spontaneous moment as Bublé coaxed a young man in the audience to sample “stardom” by singing a very respectable, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” There was also a brilliant trumpet solo that blew the roof off the room for, “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You.” The love theme continued with a tender and magnificent, “When I Fall in Love,” and reached a poignant and touching zenith with Bublé’s original composition, “Forever Now.” A devoted family man, the song was his intimate reflection on a parent’s enduring love for a child, and was movingly depicted here in accompanying slides of an evolving nursery where empty crib and room furnishings slowly appear, and then finally vanish while symbolizing the cherished life of a child. For many years Bublé had been unable to perform the song because it was much too personal in its meaning. Thank goodness it is now included. Continuing this show so full of love and humanity, he then offered another touching performance with the song, “Home,” dedicating it to the brave soldiers and first responders protecting us around the world.
Then, avoiding the risk of having melancholy set in, a fun-filled trio of Louis Prima hits followed as “Buona Sera Signorina,” “I Ain’t Got Nobody,”and “Just a Gigolo,” put the room back in full-party mode as the audience cheerfully joined in the singing. There would be breathtaking artistry for an explosive and flashy, “Cry Me a River,” before the star left the stage giving the impression the show was over. But no! Soon he was back for a soft, warm “Where or When?” before solidifying the affectionate bond between audience and star with the beautiful, “You Were Always on My Mind.” Bublé was once quoted as saying, “It’s my job as an artist to make people feel.” Job well done, Michael!
A member of both The Lambs Club Inc. and The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), the columns of DAVID DOW BENTLEY III have appeared on Broadway websites, in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, and may be viewed online at the website: www.ThePeoplesCritic.com . E-mail may be directed to ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.