Review: An Evening with Michael Bublé. Mission Estate Winery, Napier, Saturday February 1.
There's a Michael Buble fan blocking my view.
I'd tap her on the shoulder, but she's standing up because Buble himself spoke directly to her and urged her to dance.
I'd tap her on the shoulder, but she has to be 70-something.
She has an arm in a sling.
She'd probably ignore me anyway.
Because right now, she is worshipping the Holy Buble, and shaking her booty.
It's close to a year since Buble's massive "An Evening with ..." world-wide tour kicked off in Tampa, Florida on February 13, 2019.
But on a balmy Hawke's Bay night, warm but not too hot, breezy but not too windy, there's no sign Buble is in anything but fine form.
Napier is the 44-year-old's only New Zealand concert, and the first of 2020 on a tour that ends in October.
And he's Feeling Good - fresh off a Christmas break with his family.
It's the opening song and he's in fine voice.
And when Feeling Good concludes, well, hello, turns out he's in damn fine form overall.
Buble is one of those rare artists that probably could quit his day job, and take up something else. Comedy for instance. He's hilarious.
Better still, he's sincere.
Throughout the night, it's a quality that shines through.
It puts him in a rare frontman category - ego less.
If Bono (from U2) thanked God, his family, his audience, and shed tears when he sang,
eyes would roll.
Buble? People swoon. They love him because he's genuine and comes across as one of them. So when he says "get up and dance", people like my 70-years or so booty shaking friend with the arm in a sling, up they get.
Oh yeah. And he can sing.
A modern-day crooner with a pop sensibility and ability to connect with people, it's not difficult to see why he has become a global superstar, compared to vocal greats in this genre, like Frank Sinatra. But Sinatra came off as a bad boy, a tough guy.
Buble comes off as a nice guy.
The fact he hasn't met all of his 30 plus band/orchestra, or didn't make rehearsal (was he joking?) is no barrier to the first four or five songs whipping the audience into a Buble frenzy. Down the front, at least.
And for some reason, particularly amongst the middle-aged to baby boomer female category, he's going down like a cold Mission Estate chardonnay on a hot day.
The band and Buble set a cracking pace, Feeling Good, Haven't Met You Yet, he doesn't deviate too much from the set list that has worked over more than 100 dates in 2019.
Post Christmas, well, there's no Christmas songs from the album that propelled him to global superstar status.
But no one seems to be complaining.
Things quieten a down a little around the romantic ballads.
Couples are urged to get close during "When I Fall in Love", and he also somehow finds time to interact and entertain the audience when he's not singing.
He finds an Elvis loving fan from Upper Hutt who gets the opportunity to sing, and a young girl clicks her fingers and helps him out with the introduction to a song.
A catwalk and small stage out front brings Buble even closer to fans who leave their expensive seats and swarm toward him, to dance.
There's probably a few husbands or boyfriends in the audience, who came along as plus ones for their better halves. But if they haven't been converted by Buble's self effacing charm and cheek in the first 20 minutes of the show, surely Just a Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody got their toes tapping.
The set ends with a powerful rendition of Cry Me a River, before he takes a quick break as the band/orchestra jam.
Then he's back for the encore. And tells us he'd like to come back to Hawke's Bay every year ("Can we make it a regular thing?") and not for a minute does anyone think "Yeah I bet you say that to all the boys/girls."
You don't have to own Buble's albums or be a fan to know he is someone who at one point was going to quit the music business after cancer threatened the life of his son and shunted family and little else to the forefront of his mind.
He didn't quit. His faith (only subtly referenced by the way, there are no sermons), fans and family got him through. His gratitude for the Three Fs, and his career, is sincere.
He closes with You Were Always on My Mind. Not for the first time, there are tears in his eyes.
A Night With Michael Buble - what an understatement.