By John Meagher
Wednesday May 12 2010
Say what you will about Jamie Cullum, (right) but there’s no denying his showman qualities.
Towards the end of an entertaining if uneven show, the diminutive English singer and pianist, together with his four bandmates, walks off stage and into the front rows of the audience for a rendition of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me a River’.
It’s the sort of gimmick that can backfire, but Cullum boasts just the right amount of charm to make it work, particularly when he sings the words a cappella and without amplification.
In town to promote his latest album, ‘The Pursuit’, Cullum delivers a trusty formula of his own jazz-pop material and some much-loved standards — and with mixed results.
Several of the new songs fall dangerously close to muzak territory and his animated performance soon becomes irritating. Incapable of sitting still on his piano stool, Cullum resembles someone with a bad dose of haemorrhoids. And quite what possesses him to stand on his grand piano is anyone’s guess.
Yet, when he isn’t up to high jinks, he is capable of the sublime. With just piano accompaniment for the Hoagy Carmichael classic, ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’, he croons with a silky smoothness.
Later, he displays invention with a lively take on ‘Frontin’, in which he loops the sound of his own voice and, through clever use of his microphone, delivers unorthodox percussion by beating the body of the piano one moment and his own torso the next. It’s the sort of virtuoso performance to appeal to even the most avowed Jamie Cullum hater.
– John Meagher