concert reviews

Michael Bublé at the Lisner Auditorium, Washington, DC, Sunday 9 May 2004

"I used to be afraid that the music was going to die," Michael Bublé said on Sunday night at Lisner Auditorium. "Thank you so much for keeping this music alive." Bublé was referring to such standards as "Fever" and "The Way You Look Tonight," but he also covered more recent tunes: George Michael's "Kissing a Fool," the Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."

Bublé's musical inspiration came from his grandfather's encouragement and influence, and his eight-piece band (trombone, two trumpets, saxophone, piano, guitar, upright bass and drums) gave the songs of that era a youthful energy. His voice has drawn obvious comparisons to Frank Sinatra's and Bobby Darin's. Bublés sultry vocals were smooth and flawless, almost to an extreme. The charm of "Moondance" has always been rooted in Van Morrison's slightly off-pitch warble, but Bublé's note-perfect, jazzed-up version gave the song a sleazy feel.

Beyond such obvious song choices, pleasing the audience was Bublés main focus throughout the 90-minute performance, the most calculated example being an '80s medley (rehearsed to appear spontaneous) featuring a few lines of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" to ecstatic cheers. He even jumped off stage between songs to pose for a photograph with a fan.

Bublé ended the final song of the night, "My Funny Valentine," by singing away from his microphone; the power of his voice carried the song to the back of the auditorium. Throughout the set, he displayed the vocal prowess to attack songs from a variety of eras, and his song selection and delivery were well-received, easing his fears that this music might soon be forgotten.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 11 May 2004
.: Selected discography: Come Fly With Me (Michael Bublé, 2004); Michael Bublé (Michael Bublé, 2003).