Jamie Cullum, Colston Hall, Bristol
Older, wiser, classier: the jazz-pixie returns
Sunday 15 January 2006
Is it just me or is Jamie Cullum really good? Two years ago at the same sold-out venue, at the height of his Twentysomething fame, Cullum seemed poised rather uncomfortably between the mass-appeal cheesiness that comes with being Parkinson's favourite jazz-pixie, and an uncertainty as to what direction (R&B, MOR, DIY?) to go in next.
This time round, he's essentially the same performer, but with more confidence, a better band (with brilliant young multi-instrumentalists Tom Richards and Sam Wedgewood added to the excellent rhythm section of Geoff Gascoigne and Seb de Krom), and a much better show. Thanks to the three large video screens, you can also see Jamie in close-up and warm to the endearingly human gaps between his teeth.
Indeed, the screens are vital. The superb visuals designed by Yeast, which mix inventive little films and animations with live-camera coverage of Jamie's manic gurning, offer a classy context for the songs, while the black-and-white live shots supply the intimate jazz-club vibe that gets lost in a big hall.
Late into a two-hour show there was even a moment of genuine magic when Cullum and bassist Gascoigne stepped into the stalls and played an al fresco duet of the beautiful "Nature Boy", while young female fans gathered round to take pictures on their mobiles. "I love you, Jamie!" a little girl's voice called sweetly out at one quiet point, and you could see why. Good on him.
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