Last night I was lucky enough to take in the Michael Buble concert at Ahoy in Rotterdam. For those not familiar with the 36-year old Canadian singer, he has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. His music is big band jazz at its core, but also crosses over into country and pop, at times.
This is the second time I have seen Michael Buble in concert, and the first time in Holland. During the summer of 2003, I attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angles, California. He shared the bill with Broadway and screen legend Carol Channing. The theme of the night was The American Songbook, and he performed the second half of the show. His first, self-titled CD, Michael Buble, had been released in February, 2003.
Upon the recommendation of a friend, I had purchased that CD and quite enjoyed it. My view at the time, was that he was stepping into the shoes of another musician who had led the way for big band-styled jazz music to have commercial success, Harry Connick, Jr. Connick, Jr., had been hugely successful in the ’90’s with a similar sound, but during the early 2000’s, was recording less in order to focus on his acting career. The first Michael Buble album hit #1 in Australia, and the top 10 in both Canada and the UK. It had moderate success in the US, where it reached the top 50. Each subsequent release has improved on the commercial success of its predecessor.
His second release, 2005’s It’s Time, was the top selling jazz album in the United States for both 2005 and 2006, and set a record for the number of consecutive weeks at #1 on the US Billboard Jazz album chart (78 weeks). It also hit #1 in Canada, Japan and Italy. It reached the top 10 in the US (on the broader top 200 album chart), UK, Australia and several other countries, and spawned his first successful single, Home.
Since 2005, Michael Buble has released three more studio albums (2007- Call Me Irresponsible, 2009- Crazy Love, 2011- Christmas). Each of these has hit #1 on the Billboard top 200 album chart, as well as the top spot in the UK, Australia and Canada. The Crazy Love CD featured his biggest hit single to date, Haven’t Met You Yet.
The most striking difference for me seeing Michael Buble perform in Rotterdam, almost nine years after his debut on the international music scene and that Hollywood Bowl concert, is how relaxed he is on stage these days. He spends an ample amount of time bantering and interacting with the audience, such as relaying an amusing story about how he warms up with his musical director before each show. Of course, with worldwide CD sales in excess of 30 million, he should feel more comfortable since he has less to prove.
Unlike many artists, his voice sounds as good if not better live than on CD, not an easy feat for sure. There are only a handful of performers I can say that about, such as Barbra Streisand and his fellow Canadian, Celine Dion.
This production was in striking contrast to another I had attended at the Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Britney Spears during her Femme Fatale tour in 2011. As one would expect, this set was much simpler, with more attention focused on Buble and his 10-member band. The average age of the attendees, in my estimate, was probably twice that of Britney’s fans at her concert. I enjoyed both, so I’m not suggesting one was better than the other; they both very different. But this one, featuring an adult contemporary star who you also knew was actually singing live was a nice change.
If you ever get a chance to see Michael Buble in concert, don’t pass up the opportunity. You won’t be disappointed.
You can find a list of upcoming concerts in South Holland here and those outside South Holland here.