Saturday, 8 May 2010

Jamie Cullum - All Hail 'The Piano Man'.............

Hullo ma wee blog,

The lovely G and travelled through to Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall last night to go to our first Jamie Cullem concert. G was the instigator, listening to bits of his regular slot on BBC Radio Two as she comes home from work sometimes. I was an interested companion, loving piano music in most of it's forms, even if I do struggle with the density of some jazz. I was, it has to be said, unsure of a full blown jazz piano concert by someone I had heard very little of, but willing to give it a go. It turned out to be one of the most fantastic nights for a couple of years and as we reflected back on the night on the way home, we both agreed that he can sign up another two fans.

We were ably set up for the show by a half hour set from supporting act Eliza Dolittle's quirky voice and engaging character. Each track she gave us was original, interesting and very musical, yearning back to phrasing, styles and form of previous years in a highly sympathetic but completely modern way. She too captivated us right from the start and can add also us to her list of fans. A creative and cracking little performer and a talent to watch out for in the future for sure.

By the time Jamie Cullem came on stage just shy of 9pm the audience was ripe for a great show. I was intrigued before the show with the range of ages of lots of beautiful women from teens to fifties, carefully and very stylishly dressed for the night out. It appeared that oor Jamie has a willing set of following 'groupies' {and pardon me ladies if that is less than flattering for you} with an age range as wide as his musical influences.

The show started with an excited squeal from the hard core following and from the start it was easy to see what could captivate about the personality of the diminutive JC. Instantly, he made you aware of a gentle and unassuming nature, lacking in ego, big on self deprecation, easy on the ear, not grating with any kind of 'I'm the center of attention'. He is a young man {30} secure in his skin and aware he has a gift, seemingly genuinely delighted at being able to share it with you. He led off by saying that we should strap ourselves in for the long haul as they intended to play for as long as energy and inspiration held out. There was, he advised, no set list. "We're going to play what we feel like playing."

For the next two and a quarter hours he proceeded to prove he is a prodigious talent. Songs came fast and loose, covering every genre from trad and modern jazz to rock, beatbox, electric looping and Latin American. His influences showed in the huge divergence of musical styles covered, consumed, tweaked, tugged and twisted in the inimitable style of someone who is a highly individual artist. Above all it was his artistry on show last night. Yes, he is a sex thimble, yes he is a star ,but his skill, his intelligence and his complete understanding of the text he uses to communicate is where he is truly special. He blew me and everyone else in the theatre last night completely and utterly away. He plays piano like Dudley Moore with twenty years of extra practice, he phrases like Frank Sinatra and sings like a cross between Coldplay's Chris Martin and an even cooler Michael Buble. It was hypnotic to watch, it was mesmerising to listen to.

A simple four piece band of extraordinary talent, like the bass players accompaniment to the almost 10 minute freestyle duet interpretation of  'I get a kick out of you' with Jamie, showed a togetherness of real musicianship, connected by the understanding they all had of the subject matter. They quite simply had a blast and let us in on it. The two hours ended with the band having moved down to the middle of one of the side aisles with Jamie out in the audience for a fifteen minute jam session. He encouraged the audience around to come out into the aisle and dance with them - an offer too good for some of the keenest middle aged matrons to resist,  resulting in some unseemly drooling on their part - and then to follow them back down to the front of the stage while the band climbed back on for the finale and a rapturous finish to the night. The band completed an encore and Jamie ended with a heart rending version of the slow theme from Grande Torino.

A simply staggering concert, and one I couldn't fault in any way. Utterly, utterly brilliant.

If you get the chance to see him - dont miss it.............

1 comment:

Big Swifty said...

We too have discovered Jamie. We played his last two albums pretty much continuously last November/December. His understanding of the magic of music from so many styles stands out to me, I entirely agree with your views on him and his talent. We have a DVD of his show; it must have been magnificent to be there. We're green with envy of you.

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