Concert Review: Michael Bublé | 09.09.22, Enterprise Center

Illustration by Jim Mosley

I had never listened to Michael Bublé in earnest. I knew about the memes, the commercials, that he is funny and his voice is fantastic, but I honestly thought he was a Great Value Sinatra? Unkind, sure, but also uneducated.

When I did a wee bit of research before this show, I found that he is a staunch supporter of our soldiers and their families. He’s the son of a fisherman, and I might as well be. He’s Yugoslavian, I’m Polish – that’s, like, high-fiving cousins. We both wanted to be what we are when we were kids (singer and storyteller). We both like hockey. He started singing professionally at 16. I was 19 when I started writing, but still. We both loved our grandparents’ jazz and Great American Songbook music.

The setlist took off with a beautiful version of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” It found a sweet spot amongst all of the weariness in the crowd. He then paid tribute to Anthony Newley, Harry Warren, The Drifters, and Rodgers & Hart, all clearly dear to him. I was waiting to hear his version of “My Girl,” but no dice this time. But we did get “When You’re Smiling.”  “Keeeeeeep on smiling… cuz when you smile, the whole world smiles with you.” Man, we really were. My buddy and I were as snarky as a couple of drag queens on deck, but we put it down because the song felt so good to hear. We really needed a smile. We got one.

Illustration by Jim Mosley. Click to enlarge.

You know what, Bublé? You’re not Great Value Cheese. You’re that really good welfare cheese that has a high melting point. To prove that he’s melty cheese, he flipped a handkerchief up, wiped his face, and beaned an older woman in the face with it, then said, “That was the worst catch I’ve ever seen.” He fully stopped the concert to let her try again.

He sang a song called “Home,” a tribute to families of soldiers and veterans. The couple in front of me (clearly retired military) stood for the whole song. His wife filmed it. They cried a little. They stood at the beginning of every song, holding hands.

We got to hear Louis Prima, Chuck Berry, Julie London, Rodgers & Hart. It was a flawless show. Bublé is a charming, consummate professional, and he had fun onstage. There’s a reason that it’s called the Great American Songbook. The lyrics are earnest and honest and they resonate. And this orchestra: it’s not hyperbole when I say they and the backup singers were sublime. Roy Dunlap on the piano? Flawless. It harkened to the days when Louis Armstrong had 40 folks supporting him onstage.  We felt the music.

When the crowd felt the music enough to sing along, Bublé joked, “I heard all of you coming at me at one time and it was like Jesus and a choir of angels. We should tour together. We can drink whiskey on the bus and eat gummies and play Wii baseball.” MICHAEL, THAT’S MY DREAM BIRTHDAY.

By this time, he’s up to, like, Target Brand Cheese. I’m feelin’ it.

He played a new song, “Higher,” that sounds like a sexy new standard. I could feel the horn section in my tummy. I was not mad.

He talked to the crowd a lot between songs. Recognizing that Queer folks were there, POC’s and Black folks, old and young folks. He saw the partners who were told they were seeing him that night, like it or not, and dropped the best line of the night: “Our job is to come into your country, your city, your planet to put some air in your tires. Now you go home and ride that bike all night. Make some Bublé-bies.”

He puns. He’s funny. He’s sexy as socks on a rooster and he made puns.

Usually, artists apologize for playing new songs. Michael introduced one song by saying that he wrote it (“I would like to thank whiskey and depression for helping me write this song”) and was proud, so the crowd was silent, all of these strangers, swaying in unison. I think this is the first time that some of these people have cried since Covid began. They needed it. You can feel the relief flow out of them. Cry, you sisters and brothers and interns. Cry and let the music in. Let it heal you and carry you into the song. Let the music heal the last three years. We’re all here. We all survived a global plane crash. It’s ok to cry. He’s making it so sweet for us.

“The great American songbook,” he said, “the greatest gift that America gave to the arts. As far as song structure and lyrics, it’s the greatest music ever written. It isn’t about where you’re from or when you’re from. It’s about the worst of times and resilience. It’s not about surviving, It’s about thriving.” Then he sang “Smile.” Oh, my heart.

Mike? You’re forgiven for being cheesy. You’re STRAUB’S DELI CHEESE.

He said that he stands on the shoulders of his heroes, a list filled with more artists of color than white folks. He’s got taste. It was a little tone deaf to say that, and then immediately start singing Elvis Presley, an artist who is often accused of ‘stealing black music.’ That said, the Elvis medley was great. All of our favorites, flawlessly delivered. There was also a dude with a leaf blower making things fly around as he walked. Nailed it, leaf blower guy. Surely, we can give him more stage time.

Then, he brought it on home to me, literally, with “Bring it On Home to Me,” which is my favorite song from that era. I still hold that Sam Cooke and Meshell Ndegeocello have the best versions, but Mike is a close third.

You know what? You’re not French cheese because you’re all-American. (Even if you are Canadian.)

You’re motherfuckin’ BabyBel, Michal Bublé. You’re a snack. I salute you. | Melissa Cynova

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