It’s common to find professional athletes wishing they were celebrated musicians and vice versa.
John McEnroe openly dreamed of becoming a successful rocker. Kenny Chesney stated during the spring that he would love to bat against former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.
So it’s not surprising that Canadian native and Vancouver, B.C., resident Michael Buble once imagined himself playing for his native Vancouver Canucks.
“There’s nothing that I would have liked more,” Buble said. “For me and many Canadian boys, hockey was an obsession.”
Buble’s incredibly successful singing career didn’t help him become a professional hockey player but it has enabled the charismatic entertainer to buy a piece of the Vancouver Giants, a junior hockey league team. Buble co-owns the team with the greatest hockey player ever, save Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and former Canucks coach Pat Quinn.
“Hockey is a passion, but without this career I don’t own a hockey team,” Buble said. “I love hockey, but I love my job as a singer.”
Buble, who will perform Friday at the Forum, is driven to distraction by hockey and fatherhood. “I’m going to watch my first Canucks game with my son,” Buble said.
His son Noah is 2-months old. “It’ nice to have other interests aside from music,” Buble said.
But Buble is focusing on his songs. The charismatic vocalist is touring behind his latest batch of jazzy pop, “To Be Loved.” The Canadian crooner belts out a number of unforgettable classics such as the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” and Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
“There are so many great songs that I love to sing,” Buble said. “Each album I have a shot at them.”
And then there are the fun co-writes. Buble helped pen a number of breezy, catchy cuts such as “I Got It Easy” and “Close Your Eyes.” “I’m not just a singer,” Buble said. “I can do other things.”
Buble can engage a crowd. His music isn’t all that’s retro. The way he works the audience smacks of a generation or two ago.
“So many performers my age just stare at their shoes when they’re up there under the lights,” Buble said. “That’s not the way you do it. I look at the masters of live entertainment, who were great then and are great now, like Neil Diamond and Paul McCartney. They know how to do it. I look at the live show as a party. It’s two-hours in which I can take people away from their troubles. They just need to have fun.”
Buble is touring with the biggest production of his career. There is plenty of eye candy to complement the sonics. “You have to see it to believe it this time,” Buble said. “The last time I toured I did a theater act inside an arena. I learned from that. This time I have a gigantic production. It’s massive, but it doesn’t take away from the intimacy that the songs provide. I love singing these new songs. When I made this record, I wanted to make a Motown album, and I feel that it has that flavor. I just let it rip with (producer) Bob Rock (Metallica, Def Leppard). We just went in and had fun. Life is pretty great.”
There’s no doubt about that. Buble is married to Argentinian actress/model Luisiana Lopilato. He’s a beaming dad, who owns a hockey team and then there is his enviable career.
“It’s amazing,” Buble said. “I love what I do. I could have never envisioned all of this when I was a kid. When I was growing up I had a big crush on Christina Applegate when she played Kelly Bundy on ‘Married With Children.’ My wife played the Kelly Bundy part on the Argentinian version of ‘Married With Children.’ It’s crazy. I can’t complain about anything. I have this tour. Hockey season just started. My son just got his first pair of ice skates from Pat Quinn and (Canucks and former Tampa Bay Lightning coach) John Tortorella just send me a huge bundle of Canucks stuff. It’s really good right now.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: The Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa
Tickets: $54.50, $74.50 and $115; www.ticketmaster.com