By Nick Parkhouse
THE beauty of a giant venue like the Trent FM Arena is that its mere size allows the world’s leading recording acts to visit the city. Whether it’s Whitney Houston or Metallica, Rod Stewart or Lady Gaga, the Arena’s capacity means it’s a regular stopping point for the true musical megastar.
Quite how a 35-year-old Canadian crooner has established himself as one of the planet’s leading recording artists, I am not sure, but these days, Michael Buble sits firmly at the top table.
With 25 million albums, a couple of Grammys and sold-out gigs across the globe, the former cruise ship singer has been transformed into a bona fide musical icon.
Most of Nottingham’s gleefully expectant crowd were in their seats by the time vocal band Naturally 7 took to the stage to open the show. The sort of band that the X-Factor is crying out for, the Americans raced through an undeniably entertaining set with an uplifting climax that was part American evangelism, part aerobics workout. As a wise man once probably said, “If God had wanted mankind to sing a capella, he wouldn’t have invented instruments.”
On his website, Buble says: “One of the great challenges of a song stylist is to take highly familiar songs… already recorded by hundreds of artists and ask myself, can I bring something special to this song?” As the lights went down and the 13 piece big band burst into a stunningly James Bond-esque Cry Me A River, it seemed as if the Canadian had risen to that challenge.
Complete with dramatic instrumentation and a fantastic pyrotechnic climax, it was one heck of a way to announce yourself to the crowd.
“I’m here to make people’s opinions of me change,” he announced. And, for an hour, he was as good as his word. The term ‘consummate professional’ often implies a certain lack of sincerity, but Buble has charisma and personality by the bucketload. Likeable, charming and funny, the crooner did a gallant job of sprinkling enough Nottingham references through the show that it felt like less of a giant tour machine and more like a personal experience.
Devilishly handsome, the more possibility of eye contact was enough to generate whoops of delight from an enraptured female contingent as Buble ran through a mixture of Rat Pack classics, modern standards and original material. Despite a promising start, a series of relatively uninspiring covers let the pace flag a little and it seemed for a while as if the singer’s commitment to ‘change our opinion of him’ was doomed to failure.
However, as an energetic Haven’t Met You Yet and a finale including the bombastic Feeling Good and the superb Song for You closed the show, we all left a little bit star struck by what we’d seen.
Cry Me A River
All of Me
At This Moment
Mack the Knife
I’ve Got The World On A String
You Don’t Know Me
For Once In My Life
Twist and Shout
All I Do Is Dream Of You
Some Kind Of Wonderful
Save The Last Dance For Me
How Sweet It Is
Haven’t Met You Yet
Me and Mrs Jones
Song for You