Michael Bublé is the consummate showman — the brassy big-band leader, the sexy lothario, the affable storyteller, the A-list stand-up comic.
Bublé doesn’t just perform his music when he tours. He gives a fully bloomed concert that engages the audience on multiple levels. When the seemingly modest Canadian singer, backed by a 13-piece band that included eight horn players, wooed and won over a moderately filled Pepsi Center on Tuesday night, Buble expressed a sentiment that was refreshingly pro-fan.
“I’m bored by concerts,” Bublé said after a couple songs, encouraging his fans to sing and dance if they wanted. Sure enough, during “All of Me” and “Mack the Knife,” swing-dancing couples littered the arena floor, jitterbugging in the aisles and holding each other tight.
While Bublé’s music is safe and saccharine — mostly a mix of Sinatra-styled covers reworked in a lounge-driven style all his own — his show is a risky smorgasbord of music, comedy and dialogue. The singer isn’t afraid to make gay jokes with audience members, venture out to the audience and spend 10 minutes introducing his expansive band with respect and adoration.
And it’s impossible to not love Bublé for his abundance of personality — even when his misguided Eagles cover (“Heartache Tonight”) misses the mark and his sap-addled ballad (“Best of Me”) drags the concert to a grinding halt.
Bublé is best when he’s being whimsical (the Sinatra-inspired “I’ve Got the World on a String”), ridiculous (Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”) and sincere (his own “Haven’t Met You Yet”). When the singer closed his initial set with “the biggest hit of my life,” “Haven’t Met You Yet,” his energy was contagious as he bounced up and down on the stage and held the mike out to the crowd to sing the hook.
Yes, Bublé is completely over the top. But he makes looking good and filling an arena with a stadium-sized baritone seem effortless. And as he closed a hit-filled encore with “Feeling Good” and “Me & Mrs. Jones,” it was simple to see why his popularity has eclipsed the theaters and auditoriums that gave him his start.
American a cappella group Naturally 7 opened the show with an inspired, if cheesy, set of originals and covers. The all-vocal group is indeed gifted, but as they pretended to play the instruments they were emulating, it was hard to take their theatricality seriously.
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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post. He is also the executive director of the Underground Music Showcase, Colorado’s premier indie music festival. Follow his whimsies at Twitter, his live music habit at Gigbot and his iTunes addictions at Last.fm.
John Leyba is a photographer for The Denver Post and frequent Reverb contributor.