The Basement, April 19
REVIEWED BY BERNARD ZUEL
April 21, 2010
IS THIS gall or gumption? Front or foolishness?
There are not many, if any, shows that would feature in the same (long) set a song best known for being performed by the clotheshorse pop star Rihanna, a Stephen Sondheim song from Sweeney Todd done as if filtered through Radiohead, a Cole Porter favourite with added lyrics (the man needed help?) and another song long associated with that hip, happening dude from the original westside posse, Harry Secombe.
That’s not to mention original tunes that can take a funk turn or maybe a hip-hop approach, others that croon like an AM talkshow host’s sweetest dream or roll like Ray Charles, then ones that offer a finger-snapping Latin feel or couldn’t be more Coldplay if Cullum swapped his famous missus for Chris Martin’s not exactly unknown other half.
And if you need more, let’s throw in Hoagy Carmichael and Pharrell Williams. Just because we can. Or because Jamie Cullum will.
The point of all this isn’t to display what breathless press release writers might call ”dazzling virtuosity and variety”. Cullum and band are good and at times very good players: some solos from keyboard/sax/percussion player Tom Richards stretched outside comfortable while Cullum’s solos jumped between vigour and imagination; all of them are flexible enough to cover several instruments and sing as well, particularly guitarist/trumpeter Rory Simmons; and the rhythm section, of Brad Webb and Chris Hill, was as at ease with jazz as they were with hip-hop.
The point of that range of material is because it’s there, it’s good and why the hell not put it together if it can fit inside Cullum’s scruff-topped head? Cullum, an attractive if not specially gifted singer but a performer whose vim could scrub a dozen barracks’ bathroom tiles, can sell it.
Not every style and every arrangement works but you are entertained by a pop show – and it is a pop show, no matter what other elements appear – which is there for the pleasure found in the songs.
Now if we could just get him to pull his pants up