Jamie Cullum started his show at the House of Blues in Boston playing a Rihanna song. He ended the show playing a Jimi Hendrix song. In between, the crooner/multi-instrumentalist gave the standards a kick in the balls and threw in a few of his originals. I was told that the man puts on a good show, but even with the advance warning, I was blown away by the amount of energy the diminutive Brit and his excellent band had.
Those who try to put Cullum in the same musical bag as the sea of other nouveau songbook-singers probably haven’t realized two things-the fact that he’s an ace songwriter and the fact that he’s a killer in concert. This was not a smarmy, supper-club show. Jamie may have come out on stage sporting a snazzy suit, but he was rocking some cool kicks along with the suit, and by the third song, his jacket was off, his shirt was untucked and opened, and he’d already launched himself off of his piano once (the first of two times over the course of the evening).
Highlights included a pretty, piano-only version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, an audience singalong of “London Skies” (on which Cullum played acoustic guitar) that was very similar to the performance below, and his entire band gathering around one mic to perform the standard “Cry Me a River”-using the musical bed from Justin Timberlake’s 2002 song of the same name. It was an inspired bit of musicianship that obviously took a great deal of care to put together but still had a loose, off-the-cuff vibe.
Much like the Cage the Elephant show the previous night, Cullum and his band seemed completely into the music that was being played. There was nothing perfunctory about the show-these guys left it all out on the court, so to speak, and it was much appreciated by me and the rest of the audience. Nothing against Michael Buble (and something tells me Cullum might bristle at the comparison), but in an ideal world, Jamie Cullum would be the standard-singing guy millions of records at a clip.