Bublé shines in Hawai'i debut
By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Special to The Advertiser
By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Michael Bublé sells his act by romancing his audience — all 6,500 of them at Blaisdell Arena last night — collectively and individually.
The soulful and pouty persona that graces his album covers has a rascally playful side in personal performance that shines over the orchestra seats and projects to the upper balcony. And just to be sure he reaches everyone, Bublé leaves the stage to mingle in the cheap seats, risking a mob of fans — mostly female — eager for photographs, touches and hugs.
Bublé obliges with easy grace, sharing himself with the crowd and self-depreciatingly thanking the men in the audience for showing up to escort their wives and girlfriends.
"I'm here for you," seems to be his genuine mantra.
The Blaisdell show comes at the end of Bublé's "It's Time" world tour, named after his best-selling album and concluding with a Maui performance tonight.
It's the first appearance in Hawai'i for this Canadian singer, whose first big attention followed his debut album in 2003, simply titled with his last name (pronounced Boo-blay).
It's been a fast rise for someone making a big splash by sounding like someone else. Bublé's voice and style is invariably compared to Frank Sinatra, with side touches of Bobby Darin and Mel Torme. At the Blaisdell show, he also reached back to reference Elvis Presley's lower body twitch and his "thankew veramuch" drawl.
But Bublé's velvety, substantial baritone and his undeniable self-assurance make him his own performer with a classic crooner sound — not simply a copycat standing on the shoulders of other singers. Nevertheless, he succeeds at winning the crowd, not with things that are new, but that are old, borrowed, and sometimes blue.
A blend of music and personality carries the show. There's some smoke and backlighting, some schmoozing with the band during the instrumental bridges, and some reactive dance steps that he claims to be spontaneously linked to the band's drummer. But Bublé's voice and the melodies are the backbone of the evening.
"Feeling Good" opens the evening with an edgy urgency that underlies the laid-back message of the lyrics, as if the "birds flying by" couldn't possibly know how the singer truly feels.
He enters "Try A Little Tenderness" without the bland surface smugness that can color the lyric, but with a sense that he might have shared the weariness that deserves comforting.
"Come Fly with Me" has a bouncy, Sinatra-inspired detachment, quickly countered by a rendition of "Moondance" that is more subdued and less flashy than Bublé's recorded version. Last night's delivery was more introspective, as if he were searching for the reason he needed just "one more Moondance."
The singer is backed up by a dozen excellent musicians, who receive personal introductions and are featured on an instrumental number while Bublé takes a break. The band even engages in a bit of parody, a winningly humble nod by a singer who owes a great deal to those who preceded him in this genre.
But when Bublé delivers an instrumentally lush and vocally sensitive rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight," we accept it as his song — not someone else's.
With growing popularity and an ardent fan base, Bublé is poised to make it big in his own right.