Michael Buble - Meets Madison Square Garden
When an artist gets booked to perform at New York City's Madison Square Garden it means one thing. You've made it big. But if you're Canadian crooner Michael Bublé then the chance to wow 20 000 adoring fans also comes with a bit of added baggage.
Not just because this was where John Lennon staged his last show, George Harrison hosted his classic Concert for Bangladesh or that the post 9/11 Concert for New York City was held here. And no, not because everyone from Elvis, Eric Clapton, Led Zep and Pearl Jam to Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and more all recorded fantastic live albums here either. Nope, the only thought on Michael Bublé's mind when he walked out onto the Madison Square Gardens stage must've been "shit, can I swing like Frank Sinatra did during The Main Event
back in 1974?"
Michael needn't have fretted. Over the past decade he's proved he's an incredibly talented vocal stylist, having matured from a precocious retro swing crooner who ran the risk of being just another Sinatra wannabe to a fully fledged Great American Songbook interpreter and arguably even the best traditional pop vocalist of his generation.
Still, there's no harm in taking a few tips from the 'Chairman of the Board'. He follows Frank's Main Event
lead by peppering some of that devilish boys own banter in between songs. Like Sinatra, he also knows that a hand picked selection of swinging big band standards mixed with some 'extreme' contemporary pop makeovers and the odd original smash hit makes for the perfect crowd pleasing cocktail.
Meeting the Madison Square Garden crowd by splicing a bombastic big band rock jam introduction onto Leonard Cohen's cool detached come on "I'm Your Man" certainly takes some chutzpah though. No worries for Michael. He's got some big cajones
this Bublé kid has. "MSG how you doing, you doing good?" he chuckles with his best Dean Martin does Jimmy Durante rasp. Hell, it's not even the second song and he's already got the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
Of course, when it comes to swing, it's an ability to stamp your own signature on those old school standards that matters most. No sweat. Whether he's easing into sepia-toned takes on Bill Paul’s classic 70s soul ballad "Me and Mrs Jones" or simply mainlining some Rat Packed bravado into a brassy big band rendition of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good", Michael's got the pipes. He's got the panache too, letting his inner Sinatra out on a finger-clicking Vegas lounge rendition of "Call Me Irresponsible", and adding a couldn't-care-less lisp cut from Dean Martin's stand-up guy cloth to Harold Arlen's "I've Got the World On a String" before bringing the house down with…yep, you guessed it a trio of original tunes.
Moving from Elton John sounding romantic soft pop caresses ("Lost") and MOR country kissed autobiographical ballad sighs about being on the road ("Home") to beatific Bill Withered melodic pop breezes ("Everything") these co-written originals showcase a far more intimate, seductive and yes - if the screams from the ladies in the crowd are any indication - sexy
side of Bublé that are note perfect counterfoils to some of his more pretentious Vegas lounge raconteur moments.
Not that Michael ever loses rapport with his audience. On the contrary, whether he's jazzing up Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" with some rocking rhythm 'n blues or serenading his fans with a climactically beautiful rendition of Leon Russell's ballad "Song For You", like Sinatra he understands that the art of swing seduction is all about leaving your listener bewitched, bothered and yes, sometimes even slightly bewildered.