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Review: Buble charms Tampa with old-school class


Published:   |   Updated: November 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM

In an age where pop singers and rappers grind almost nude against inanimate objects on stage, rappers curse their audiences or rockers barely actually play their instruments, Michael Buble turned the clock back 60 years, musically and theatrically speaking.

Performing Friday night at the Forum in front of a sold-out audience made up mostly of those old enough to know, but too young to remember – the 38-year-old Canadian crooner delivered. A throwback to the singers of the big band and swing heyday of the 1930s and 1940s, Buble – who got his start singing at a British Columbia business party in 2000 – sang a solid 23-song set of standards, peppered with four originals from his eighth album, “To Be Loved,” released in April.

Backed by a 13-piece band – including an eight-piece horn section – the three-time Grammy winner didn’t set the world on fire with surprises, but did ignite the crowd with soul-searing standards and heart-melting melodies. Performing from the main stage, he twice ventured to an auxiliary stage set up in the back of the arena, shaking hands with the delighted audience on his way.

Included in his golden-oldie set, Buble threw in covers from later artists such as Van Morrison, The Jackson 5 and even “Get Lucky,” by current French electronica duo Daft Punk.

Buble opened with Little Willie John’s 1956 sultry hit, “Fever,” surrounded by flames projected on the immense 3-D screen behind him and actual flames shooting up from front center stage. He then broke into his original, “Haven’t Met You Yet,” which reached number one on the U.S. adult contemporary charts. After noting a fan’s sign, which read “Come dance with me, it’s my birthday,” the singer astounded three audience members, inviting them to the stage front, where he serenaded them with “Happy Birthday.”

With Sinatra-meets-Presley-like timing, Buble enraptured the adoring audience with subsequent covers including Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “Come Dance With Me,” Cab Calloway’s “I’ve Got the World on a String,” and Nat King Cole’s “That’s All,” before doing an instrumental version of his Grammy Award-nominated 2007 single, “Everything.”

Throughout the show, an array of backgrounds – from computer-generated gold beams and girders to paper hearts that showered the audience – kept the concert visually stimulating.

“God’s blessed me; I get to do what I love to do with people like you,” he told the crowd after the set.

After introducing his band and performing Eddie Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me,” he sang his original “Home” from his 2005 album, “It’s Time,” which he dedicated to U.S. military personnel and families. On the screen, various black-and-white images of family togetherness were displayed, ending with a shot of his son, Noah, born Aug. 27.

The remainder of the show remained upbeat, and unlike many of today’s artists who may start a show dressed nicely but end up ditching the formal wear by show’s end, Buble stayed dressed to the nines, switching to polka-dotted smoking jacket for his three-song encore of Julie London’s “Cry Me a River,” “Save the Last Dance for Me” and Leon Russell’s 1971 hit “A Song for You,” which was highlighted with a few lines sung a cappella, even forgoing the use of a microphone, which even further endeared the audience who seemed mesmerized and entranced by his charm for the entire show.

New York City’s vocal group Naturally 7 opened the show covering classic soul, R&B and Motown artists, such as Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5, doing the entire set, including imitating instruments, with their voices.

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