Jamie Cullum in the evening put on what could really only be called a show, with a level of crowd engagement and interaction no one else matched all weekend. Not that this was always a good thing, as the piano jumping, shirt stripping and Simon Cowell jokes irritated as much as they entertained at times. Sometimes it was if there was a Duracell bunny on stage and no one knew how to switch it off.
But the show caught fire, with a talented band that included up-for-it drummer Brad Webb and talented sax player Tom Richards and trumpeter Rory Simmons. Cullum excelled on the Cole Porter material and the material from debut Universal album Twentysomething. He was touchingly joined by brother Ben on ‘These Are The Days’ and pulled off a lovely finish with ‘Gran Torino’. The crowd went suitably potty when the band decamped to the middle of the hall to belt out ‘Cry Me A River’ just before the end and Cullum, it must be said, put in one hundred per cent.
Judging by the large numbers swilling around the venues over the weekend and optimistic talk by chief executive Donna Rennie about healthy box office figures Cheltenham this year, after last year’s travails, seems to have turned a corner. If it takes a bit of populism to pull in the crowds fair enough but hopefully the organisers won’t forget to keep the left field jazz and maverick choices to the fore as well in the future.
– Stephen Graham