Photo by Nelson Chenault.
It’s 9:54 on a cold Saturday night in North Little Rock and if by some chance Michael Bublé doesn’t in fact have the world on a string as he’s claiming in song, then at least he’s well on his way to wowing the 6,350 fans who turned out to see him heat up – uh, make that own – the Alltel Arena stage for the evening.
He’s been singing and dancing and cutting up for 41 minutes and has already worked his way through such crowd-pleasers as “I’m Your Man,” “It Had Better Be Tonight,” “Me and Mrs. Jones” and the title track to the Grammy-winning CD all those songs are on, “Call Me Irresponsible.” So by the time he and his suit and tie are midway through “I’ve Got the World on a String,” you realize he’s going to be more than just the latest young guy singing old standards.
Call him stylish, engaging and exuberant. Throw in likable, irrepressible and entertaining, too.
The talented young Canadian was all that and more as he showed off his easy stage presence, his sense of humor and, oh yeah, that great voice that delivers smooth stylings of classics as well as songs he’s written that may soon fit in that category. That includes “Everything,” his chart-topping love song, the sentimental “Lost” and the sensitive ballad “Home,” his first No. 1, which he sang as a video showed familiar images of Little Rock and North Little Rock in the background.
In between the hits, the wise-cracking Bublé had fun with the audience and his terrific 13-piece orchestra, channeled a little bit of Elvis (“That’s Alright, Mama”), helped the crowd sing and spell “Y.M.C.A.,” and covered artists from Sinatra (“That’s Life”) to the Drifters (“Save the Last Dance for Me”) to Queen (“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”).
It was almost 11 p.m. when he bid his audience a fond, touching farewell by singing “A Song for You,” accentuating the last verse with no microphone and no accompaniment.
Dressed all in white, the members of the extraordinary group Naturally 7 kicked the evening off with a taste of what they call “vocal play.” Providing all the sounds with their mouths and bodies, they demonstrated how they take a cappella to another level and “become the instrumentation,” while pleasing with “Feel It (In the Air Tonight)” and their take on some old Simon and Garfunkel songs.
– Bill Paddack