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Concert Reviews:
Michael Buble Brings That Swing To The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- Michael Buble loves the Great American Songbook. But as a proud son of Canada, he also loves hockey.

And he displayed both passions during his finger-snapping concert Thursday night (March 25) at the Palace.

The ice capades started early in the 20-song, hour-and-45-minute show, when Buble made a gratuitous but not unexpected reference to Canada's gold medal-winning Olympic hockey team. "Suck it, Detroit!" Buble, who certainly understands the Red Wings' stature, said in response to some boos from the sell-out crowd of 13,000-plus. "You've won enough."

But his hockey jones took a touching turn before his performance of "Georgia On My Mind," when he noted, with great reverence, the presence of Red Wings great Gordie Howe in the crowd and of Howe's upcoming 82nd birthday (on March 31). With a photo of Howe on the video screens behind him, Buble led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" while a cake was carried out to the visibly moved Howe, who was surrounded by family members. "That's for you, No. 9," Buble said after finishing the song.

That brought an extra level of engagement to a show that was already connecting solidly with the mostly adult crowd that embraced the 34-year-old Buble as part of the suit-and-tie lineage of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others who have worked their way through the Songbook in past decades. Following a crowd-winning opening set by the New York a capella septet Naturally7, Buble brought a decidedly contemporary touch to the tradition -- a loose, personable and self-deprecating countenance that let him drop the occasional profanity without being offensive as he glided around the slick, sloped stage and made references to Michael Jackson (including a bit of "Billie Jean") and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" before singing the Isley Brothers' "Twist & Shout."

There were other modern accouterments, too, including state-of-the-art arena staging, a brief curtain of pyrotechnics after the opening "Cry Me a River," giants balloons kicked into the crowd during "Twist & Shout," a performance of "Home" on a second stage situated near the middle of the Palace floor and a confetti shower during "Feeling Good."

But Buble really won the night with his singing, whether it was swinging standards such as "All of Me," "At this Moment," "Mack the Knife" and "World on a String," interpretations of rock tunes like Van Morrison's "Crazy Love" (the title track of Buble's latest album) and the Eagles' "Heartache Tonight," favorites from the '60s (the Drifters' "Save the Last Dance For Me") and '70s (Billy Paul's "Me & Mrs. Jones"), or a pair of Motown favorites, the Stevie Wonder-popularized "For Once in My Life" and Holland-Dozier-Holland's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)." Buble exulted in the success of his latest single, "Haven't Met You Yet," which he co-wrote, and as he closed the concert with Leon Russell's "A Song For You," Buble stepped away from the microphone and sang a capella into the arena with enough volume to carry into the Palace's upper deck.

"I'll come back here a million times if you'll have me," Buble told the crowd, which sounded like it couldn't have him back too soon.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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