Oh, dear. How annoying. This man has completely confounded my expectations. We all know what these Parkinson-approved crooners are like, don't we? Always wears a suit and tie? Check. Uses old-fashioned jazz microphone? Check. Knows a few old standards and can belt out a passable version of "My Way"? I was expecting cheesy warbling from a low-calorie Sinatra clone with a neat line in sharp suits and twinkling asides. What I did not expect was a howling good time, a rocking band and a razor-sharp brand of self-deprecating humour.
Michael Bubl has sold more than 11 million albums, clogging up playlists, and selling out arenas all over the world. This was the most intimate on his UK tour, a relatively puny 3,200-capacity sold-out crowd.
The evening got off to an electrifying start with the support, Naturally 7, a close-harmony vocal group from New York who use only their voices to provide their band sound. This is an innovative and modern take on doo-wop that proved very popular with the normally reserved south-coast crowd, who wasted no time in rising to a standing ovation at the end of the set. No mean feat on a wet Saturday evening in Dorset.
Michael Bubl's set was a cappuccino-perfect blend of classics, covers and, most importantly, his own material. This is what sets him apart from the legions of smarmy jazz singers, and his writing is growing in confidence simple songs expressing simple sentiments, perfectly performed. His voice was strong and clear throughout; he even sang the final chorus of the encore, "Song for You", without a microphone, projecting to the back of the cavernous BIC.
His self-penned hits went down a storm. A moving "Home" showed no signs of wear and tear, despite being embarrassed into the charts again by Westlife. The band are phenomenal, a tight, rocking 13-piece who were happy to take the spotlight when Bubl swaggered off in a staged diva fit. This interplay between Bubl and the band members was the surprising highlight of the show it may have been far from spontaneous, but it was still hilarious. Saccharine levels shot through the roof when we were asked to sing happy birthday to a sweet nine-year-old girl, but we were soon brought back down to earth again by a cutting swipe at Mika.
If Bubl continues to play his clean-cut cards right, he just may be able to stake a serious claim as the heir to Ol' Blue Eyes's throne; he has the looks, the voice and the sheer charisma. Maybe Parky was right after all. Now where's that Katie Melua album...
Matt Fancy, Postman, Wimborne, DorsetReuse content