Photos by Katrina Lat
I’ve never seen people so genuinely excited to see an artist before. People are racing to their seats well before the show is set to start so they can get settled. The energy and anticipation is a warmer type of feeling more akin to seeing a friend or relative after a long time. Entire families are buzzing with energy, couples are enjoying their Friday date nights, and ladies’ night is in full effect.
Naturally, Bublé opens up with one of his breakout tracks (and karaoke classic), Feeling Good. The spotlight is on him as he descends the staircase, flanked by his (I count) 36-piece orchestra. The string and brass sections would become highlights in their own right throughout the night.
He segues into radio darling, Haven’t Met You Yet, bringing the energy back up and settling into a place of comfort so that he can start his first of many monologues. I think this is where Bublé shines — he tells funny stories and pranks the audience (at one point he made us believe Hugh Jackman was joining him on stage), shares personal anecdotes, and lets his personality shine through. Sway rounds out this triplet of songs that serve as an introduction for the night to come. The orchestra impresses more and more with each song, tied together by Bublé’s unwavering voice.
We enter his second monologue of the night where he talks about his grandpa, the one that introduced him to this style of music and encouraged him to chase his dreams. Again, Bublé brings his personal brand to his concert and weaves a story for this performance. A swanky rendition of When You’re Smiling has the crowd swaying and you can see people lip-syncing the words to their partners. The brass section once again elicits pure joy.
Having talked about his inspiration (his grandpa) and the fact that he left for Toronto at 16 to be a singer, he pivots into what he says is his favourite part of his concerts: giving a fan an opportunity to sing. The origins of this section likely come from this viral video with one of his fans. A fan at the very front is selected and she opts to sing Dream A Little Dream with Bublé. It does feel a little scripted, with the fan being preparedness and skill of the fan, but after looking through a few videos of Bublé fans singing at his concerts, it looks like a genuinely spontaneous opportunity for a fan to live out their dreams.
As if this wasn’t enough, Bublé invites one of his supporting trumpet players, Jumaane Smith, to do “his number”. He does a blistering version of Dean Martin’s You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You, closing off the number performing the trumpet solo as well! While this part of the concert was unexpected, it was more than welcome as Bublé’s excitement for these guest performers, as well as their own joy, is infectious.
Love You Anymore, an emotional performance of Forever Now accompanied by tear-provoking visuals, and a stripped-down version of Home serve as an interlude for the next part of the night. He talks about having spent his teenage youth and early adulthood singing in bars and wanted to recreate the experience in large venues, so he has moved to a more “intimate” setting in the middle of the arena, where he has a much smaller band.
He rattles off track after track, with my personal favourite being Just A Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody. The boisterous calls of “I… Ain’t Got Nobody” are infectious and force you out of your seat so you can twist your hips and shout. He knows he has control of the audience and asks everyone to stand up and dance and folks are only too eager to oblige.
He returns to centre stage and performs the lovely Nobody But Me and Everyting. He disappears beneath the stage, but the orchestra continues playing. His right-hand man, Alan Chang sets fire to the stage with his piano solo, followed by an upright bass solo, a drum solo, building to a crescendo before Bublé returns to the stage. He closes off with the cinematic Where or When, delivering a climactic ending to a lovely evening.