Monday, December 7, 2009


Saturday, June 07, 2008 
Rod Laver Arena

Obviously he's a consummate professional. Clearly he has the audience in his hand before he's on stage. Yes we know what to expect and what we're going to get, and of course the crowd is 70% female, but yet...there are surprises. The impressive 3D light display marking out his trademark initials in cones of light and colour, mirrored on the flanking screens, set the almost reverential tone in the darkened arena. As Buble later informs us, via song, a sold out Rod Laver holds 11,242 people and each one of us await, breath-bated for the diminutive, nattily-dressed 32-year old to saunter on and carry us away. That he does so over a surge of oestrogen-fuelled screams and applause with a fellow Canuck Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man is only the first surprise.

On a sloping stage, before his 13-piece band, Buble initially seems a little rusty, singing off-mic and with voice surprisingly gravelly. Fortunately, once he's formally introduced himself, heaped abuse on Sydney, bigged up Melbourne and played up to the many men who's 'asses were dragged here tonight' ('man, some nights I'd rather be at home watching footy highlights too,'), he loosens his tie, loses his nerves and his voice soon commands the attention we crave to give it via a sexless Me And Mrs Jones, cameras discretely cutting away while he mops his brow.

That voice, like it or not, does everything it needs to do. Playing with syllables and phrasing like a toy balloon, Buble is clearly living his rat pack dream to the hilt; pacing the stage, regaling the audience with Melbourne-centric banter (by God has he done his homework and boy does it pay off - lingering shots of trams, Fed Square and Aussie flags projected behind during Home all hilariously present), and doing his utmost to make surly husbands crack. Once each song has ended with a single, white spotlight, silhouetting his hunched figure in what can only be described as a Sinatra-esque manner, Buble does his best to make the show as entertaining as possible - 'seriously, I just want you to have a fun night with that Buble guy playing a few tunes' he tells us.

He poses for photos mid-song, gladhands the front rows and controls the mood pitch-perfectly, via frank asides, self-dissing humour (referring to himself in a thick, and impressive Aussie accent as 'that Buble wanker'), and it works. from a smoky Always On My Mind to the big band bonanza of Feeling Good the attention to detail extends far beyond the monogrammed music stands of the horn section. Gluing together Elvis's That's Alright Mama with YMCA in an extended joke about his masculinity is done so well that whatever remnants of the crowd not already won over have to crack a smile and hand it to him. With only a couple of self-penned jokes and songs not working, it's more than made up for by the extended interlude of play-acting from a hilariously deadpan trombone player, and his Dino impression.

It should be this good, and it is, with his charming everyman shtick holding it together - whether being viciously bum-squeezed while on his way to continue a conversation with a young fan or punching fists with the backing singers during That's Life - it's all effortless. When you've got the ingredients right, as Buble informs us via his personal recipe for chicken and asparagus risotto that features in the glossy programme; do not over-stir.

No comments:

Post a Comment