On the Scene: Michael Bublé at NYC's Webster Hall
Last night Michael Bublé, the Canadian crooner you’ve seen on the red carpet with girlfriend Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) — and on American Idol without his usual charm (more on that in a bit) — celebrated today’s release of this third album, Call Me Irresponsible, with a performance at New York City’s Webster Hall. He swung so hard it hurt.
Bublé opened with the title track, which had more focus and oomph (it’s a technical term) than it did last month on Idol — when bloggers accused the Grammy-nominated singer of having a cocktail or two before the show. I chatted with Bublé recently for EW (look for him in the issue out Friday), and he told me he’s never had a drink before he’s gone onstage because he’s too much of a control freak. His explanation: “Listen, I was nervous. I’m sitting there filling in for the greatest of all time [his mentor, Tony Bennett], on the biggest show in America, and perhaps I overcompensated and tried to calm myself down and be a little too cool for school. After about 20 seconds, I really felt like I got into it, and I actually had fun. But it’s a scary thing.”
addCredit(“Michael Bublé: David Sgalambro/ Retna”)
Bublé looked perfectly at ease during his second number, the saucy”It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio Stasera),” which gives the dualItalian citizen a chance to speak the language while his horn sectionhas the opportunity to scream. His 13-piece band may look like The Daily Show writers on Emmy night, but those boys got soul. (I defy anyone to listen to them wail at the end of “Feeling Good,”which Bublé did later as his encore, and not momentarily wish they’dtaken up the trumpet.) When “It Had Better Be Tonight” ended, a womenin the crowd seized the moment and announced that she was going tomarry Bublé. “You’re getting married to me, yay!” he answered. “I loveyou, too! But I’m still going to see other audiences.”
He then segued into Call Me Irresponsible‘s steamiest cover, “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which you can hear here. He dedicated it to the men in the room, since “it’s about your wife cheating on you with a younger guy.” (Lord knows my 59-year-old mother wouldn’t pass up a night with Bublé, 31, or, since we’re being honest here, with his buddy Josh Groban.)
Emily Blunt sings fade-out vocals on the album cut of “Me and Mrs.Jones” and even though her “Same place, same time”s seeminconsequential there, once you’ve heard them, you kinda miss ’em.(Perhaps album producer David Foster does know what he’s doing.) Still,the song killed, if you like that moment of anticipation when someonewho starts a song singing seated on a stool stands up because he’sabout to vocally let loose. And I do.
After that, Bublé wanted to do something that reminded him of Vegasin the ’50s, when everyone was “s—faced,” and launched into “I’ve Gotthe World on a String.” Nice, but the album version sells it even better. Then came “Save the Last Dance for Me,”which got the people movin’ — and me wonderin’ if someone in the bandhas ever missed a note because he was laughing at the people movin’.
Joking that “nothing brings out sexuality like… country music,”Bublé admitted that he’d inadvertently co-written a country song in hishit single “Home,”then sang hick-ed up renditions of it and “On the Road Again.” I turnedto my plus-one Karen and asked if he was making fun of “my people,” andshe, not particularly a country fan, said, “Yes.” I, however, chose tobelieve that Bublé was just having fun, and that someone who prideshimself on being “emotionally honest” in his music (see Irresponsible‘s tear-inducing cover of “Always on My Mind,” recorded live in the studio without the usual digital voice enhancements) knows that it doesn’t get more genuine than Mr. Willie Nelson.Also, when I’d asked Bublé which artist he’d like to cover but hasn’t,he answered Bryan Adams, so you know he’s in no position to caststones.
To finish the hour-long set, Bublé drove the ladies in the front rows wild with Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man”(during which I seemed to have again scribbled “kinda hot when he hasto get off the stool” in my notebook); the first single off Irresponsible, “Everything,” one of two originals he co-wrote on the album; and an old show-stopper “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” which his band rocks harder than the song has a right to. (Do you really need to devil-horn at a Bublé concert, people?)
So, there you have it. A night with the man whose name everyoneloves to say (you know you do). You can catch Bublé — and hiscustom-made Hugo Boss suits — on tour this summer. Perhaps my mother and I will be seeing you.