concert reviews

Jamie Cullum at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Sunday 24 October 2004

On Sunday night at the 9:30 club, Jamie Cullum broke the stereotypical image of a pianist crooning serenely while seated at his instrument. He did not stay still for a second of the two-hour performance, often dancing at center stage during a drum solo and then leaping back to his piano just in time to return to the music. He bounced on his piano stool, he climbed on top of the instrument and jumped off, and he played not only with his hands but also with his feet and rump.

Cullum translated that physical energy into an engaging performance, experimenting with sound by pounding the piano's body with his palms in a percussive introduction to N.E.R.D.'s "Frontin' " and creating short, tinny tones as he held down the strings with one hand during Radiohead's "High and Dry." Although he played a lot of covers, Cullum's original songs received a warm reception from the full house, which sang along loudly with his tune "Twentysomething." Cullum concluded his set with a lengthy jam, which found him standing on the bar in the club, conducting the crowd in three-part harmony. The enthusiastic cheers brought him back onstage to sing -- while jumping up and down -- a tune appropriate for someone with so much energy: "I Could Have Danced All Night."

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 26 October 2004
.: Selected discography: Twentysomething (Jamie Cullum, 2004).