REVIEW: Jamie Cullum at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall

May 17 2010 by Catherine Jones, Liverpool Echo

HE may be small of stature – one (albeit smitten) friend describes him as ‘Jazz Hobbit’ – but on stage Jamie Cullum is an irresistible musical force 12.

Whether leaping on top of his piano (I hoped it wasn’t the Phil’s) in the middle of Get Your Way or leaping into the audience with his band for an up-close-and-personal rendition of Cry Me a River, the crowd at Cullum’s first Liverpool gig for several years was treated to a frenetic and irresistible jazz-infused two hours.

First up was support act Eliza Doolittle, a waif-balladeer whose new single Skinny Genes is instantly forgettable, but who shone in a heartfelt version of Aretha’s In Never Loved a Man.

She later returned to duet with Cullum, who claimed during one of his between-numbers chats that “set lists freak me out”. A little showmanship perhaps – or else his band has a sixth sense which enabled them to create all-but-seamless segues from one song to another.

A mix-and-match of Cullum originals and favourite covers meant recent hit I’m All Over It Now was followed by Cole Porter’s Just One of Those Things – the 30-year-old’s voice hinting at just a touch of rawness, no surprise with the vocal gymnastics he produces night after night on this first UK tour in four years.

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The ballad All At Sea, a Jungle Book-inspired, drum-driven You And Me Are Gone (from new album The Pursuit), and the beautiful – and humorous – Photograph all found a place in the non-set set, while there was audience participation sought and received in a melodic sing-a-long London Skies.

It was an audience thoroughly mixed along lines of both age and sex, proving Cullum’s music and his shining enthusiasm for jazz embrace each and every demographic.

The singer-songwriter-pianist also benefits from a top class band (the ‘bearded choirboys’); its members so versatile they can switch from guitar to trumpet or double bass to sax in a beat.

So deep and genuine appears their love of the music they play, that at times it felt like we’d all gatecrashed a glorious, uninhibited late-night jamming session.

“Please tell your friends that you had a good night,” Cullum requested as he launched into his final clutch of numbers.

Oh, all right then!

9 Cullum’s (piano)forte

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