LIVE: Michael Buble @ Times Union Center, 10/19/2021
After four cancellations and eighteen months of waiting Michael Buble magically appeared by hidden elevator at the very top of his enormous bandshell which held his 34-piece orchestra (all women on strings, men on horns, guitar, piano and drums) and eased his way into the very dramatic “Feeling Good.” The crowd greeted him very warmly for the Anthony Newley/ Leslie Bricusse classic but no mention was made of Bricusse’s passing yesterday. There would be dark subject matter addressed later in the evening.
With his second song, “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet” his affair with the crowd was in full swing. He did a hesitation step before venturing out onto the ramp which led to the center of the arena. He blew kisses, made funny faces, and left the end of song lines unfinished, turning the microphone to the crowd to finish his verse. The crowd ate it up and when he asked “How many of you, when you got the fourth e-mail saying the concert date had been rescheduled said ‘F*** you Michael Buble!?” There was a roar of approval that he acknowledged their frustration and validated their anger over our fate for the last year and a half. He went on about missing performing “I was built to do this. It takes the best part of you and just deletes it.”
He proceeded to work through his 23 song setlist launching into a rendition of the most dangerous “My Funny Valentine” I’ve ever heard. This, “Feeling Good” and “Cry Me a River” used the full force of the band and sounded like bombastic auditions for the next James Bond theme song. “Sway” with its Latin rhythms had his always game horn section moving back and forth in sync. “Such a Night” had him racing back out to center arena trading fist bumps, tossing sweat rags and a pretty neat bell kick on his return in his bright green, Lucky Charms suit.
He introduced the next segment as his favorite part of the show, he would unironically reuse that phrase a couple more times in the evening. He said it was because he got to talk about himself and his small-town Canadian upbringing, discovering jazz through Bing Crosby’s Christmas records. How his grandfather would trade his plumbing skills to sneak him underage into the nightclubs and how he always believed in him. Buble lost his grandfather just before the pandemic at age 92. “I hear you applaud and everyone says, ‘Oh, he had a nice long life. You had him for 92 years. And I think, No! I wanted him for another 92! He was my best friend.” He dedicated the next song, “Lazy River,” to those who had lost someone recently. It was a moving and stunning moment of vulnerability in front of thousands only to be topped a few songs later when he started a song he wrote about his son Noah’s health problems, “Forever Now,” and couldn’t get through the first verse. He quit the song and said, “Some nights are easy, some nights are just not easy.”
Buble had effortless rapport with the crowd all night and if he didn’t shy away from the schmaltz, he was also unafraid to hand a microphone over to a fan, Laurie from Watertown, who didn’t know the lyrics of her chosen song, “Fly Me to the Moon.” The uncomfortable song and his lighthearted, generous reaction to it were a powerful example of grace under pressure. He was a hero to this not quite capacity crowd, according to him, “25% of the audience stayed home because they weren’t ready yet. That’s ok, their money is just as good.”
A favorite moment in the show was him pulling a stool up to pianist Alan Chang for a cozy saloon “When I Fall in Love.” The sound was impeccable, his glorious voice was at its easiest and most supple and responsive and the six screens projecting the band and star greatly served to make this intimate moment connect. There was a dedication to service members with “Home” and another great touch was a staged impromptu jam session with a half dozen members of his band decamping from the bandstand for a stage at mid-court with a frisky collection of “Buona Serra,” “Just a Gigolo,” Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” and “Nobody but Me.” All that was left after the aforementioned show closing of “Cry Me a River” was a magnificent, heaven scraping encore of “Where or When” and the benediction of “Everything.” “And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times/ It’s you, it’s you, you make me sing/ You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything.”