Archive for September, 2010

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Me and Mr. Bublé

September 2, 2010

I’ve been waiting months for a reason to blog about Michael Bublé. This is it. A week and a half ago I somehow found myself at one of the two shows that Bublé performed at Rogers Arena. “Somehow” is the operative word because something possessed me to impulsively plunk down $275.05 to Ticketmaster for two prime seats.

My official excuse for this reckless behaviour: I did it all for my mother. She’s a fan, so I bought the tickets for her birthday. Mom obviously couldn’t go by herself, so I was just volunteering myself to accompany her.

Here’s my dirty secret: Weeks before my wife suggested giving the concert tickets as a present, I actually thought about buying myself a ticket. I even went as far as searching for a ticket online and finding one before pulling myself back from the precipice of the “Submit Order” button. As someone who has embraced alternative music for most of my adult life, I couldn’t picture myself enjoying a whole evening of his music or partaking in the lovefest that would be a Bublé concert in his hometown. But I didn’t hesitate to click “Submit Order” the second time around. Why?

In 1997, when I was writing a bi-weekly column about Vancouver’s jazz and world music scene for the Vancouver Courier, I did a piece on Bublé. I heard him sing at BaBaLu (now Doolin’s Irish Pub), where he had a regular gig, and interviewed him backstage. I ended up doing a favourable column, as this excerpt shows:

“With his well-coifed hair and sleek blazer, he exuded the image of a swingin’ entertainer. Bublé also sounded like the real thing. He confidently crooned tunes like “Pennies From Heaven” and “The Lady Is A Tramp”. He even succeeded in doing “Danke Shoen,” a Wayne Newton hit, without reducing it to kitsch.”

I wish I could say I predicted stardom for him, but I didn’t. At the time, nothing really stood out about meeting Bublé, other than him being friendly and easy to talk to; it was just another interview of a local up and coming artist. But when I feel like celebrity name dropping, I tell people about what happened some time after the article was published – Bublé called me out of the blue. Just to chat. Really.

My Bublé encounters from 13 years ago prompted me to pay more attention to his ascending career than I would with other name artists. I also developed a guilty pleasure in listening to his pop tunes like “Home” and “Haven’t Met You Yet”, not to mention his silky version of “Me and Mrs. Jones”. So forces were conspiring to get me to Rogers Arena, regardless of my reservations.

Bublé doing “Home”, my ultimate guilty pleasure song by the Burnaby boy, at Rogers Arena:

What I liked about Bublé’s concert:

  • The swing songs and classic ballads – that’s what he does best, despite what my naysaying wife is murmuring in the background as I write. She says Bublé is too “smooth and breezy” and lacks “aching soul”. (Isn’t the wife supposed to like Bublé and not the other way around?) My view: He intuitively understands the genres he sings in and has a credible delivery that sounds effortless.
  • That he employs a large group of young musicians who have legitimate jazz chops.
  • His jokey manner – he makes people (like my mom) laugh and be happy, and I even allowed myself some smiles.

What I didn’t like:

  • His take on rock tunes like “Heartache Tonight” – do we really need to hear him cover second-rate Eagles songs?
  • The woman sitting behind us who kept whistling and screaming at a high-pitched, piercing level.
  • His jokey manner – I get that he’s an entertainer but after awhile the banter feels overwrought.

I generally enjoyed the show. It was a huge step up from the last concert I went to with my mum, André Rieu, which was beyond horrid! I took Bublé’s performance for what it was – pleasant, tuneful music, good value entertainment (despite the ticket price) and not profound art. But now that I’ve closed the circle from BaBaLu and that phone call, I can move on. While I’ll keep listening to him as a guilty pleasure, I won’t be tempted to click “Submit Order” again.

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