Published Date: 19 May 2010
By Jo Davison
Experimental, fearless, an awesome talent … and looking a lot like genius to me.
Apologies for gushing; I can describe Jamie Cullum only in superlatives having witnessed his hot-wiring of Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday night.
Electrifying? He burned the house down.
Thunderous applause and a dancing in the aisles finale? OhADVERTISEMENT , indeedy.
But add to that the rapt and silent auditorium during ballads like All At Sea, Hoagy Carmichael’s I Get Along without you Very Well and his customary end of show roam into the audience, this time to croon Cry Me A River, when we listened intently to a voice you tend to forget the sheer beauty of when it’s scorching its way through high octane rock-pop numbers and rampaging through the scales on his funk-jazz hits.
I’ve experienced the brilliance of Jamie four times before and hadn’t expected those previous highs to be bettered. How could they be?
But the Boy Wonder, who is now a Thirtysomething would you believe, blasted them into the ghetto, proving just how far he has pushed himself as he has matured.
The most thrilling stuff came from his new and fifth album, The Pursuit, named after Nancy Mitford’s classic novel, The Pursuit Of Love. It’s a great title for Cullum, the a driven creature endlessly in pursuit of perfection and new sound.
His love of Jazz and its timeless standards clearly endures, but his eclectic tastes and skills take him to a world far beyond. From Cole Porter to Rihanna to Aphex Twin to transforming himself into a human beatbox.
His beloved piano became his toy; he clambered onto it, leapt from it, turned it into an impromptu drum kit… I half-wondered if he ever does the same with his Sophie, darling Dahl finding tunes being tapped out on her derriere as she sleeps.
Pleasingly, Cullum has not roamed so far he refuses to look back; there were past hits a-plenty (the most recent being hi-energy Please Don’t Stop The Music, plus Get your Way, What A Difference A Day Makes, Twentysomething and the lovely Photograph).
A total showman, he threw himself into a performance lasting over two hours, head and limbs jerking like a marionette in the hands of an insane puppet-master.
The fact that it’s the music pulling his strings is what sends fans tripping on a glorious, musical sugar-rush.
And the thing is, it’s so obvious Cullum still has far to go.