The Evening Standard Proms Review: Top marks for effort!

By Jack Massarik

Jamie Cullum at Proms

Super-slick: Jamie Cullum treated last night’s Proms audience to love songs, jazz standards and a gospel-flavoured encore

Stardom has not yet spoiled Jamie Cullum, though he is never knowingly undersold. Last night he was introduced as “the most famous young jazz musician in Britain, who has sold four and half million albums worldwide, won a Golden Globe award, collaborated with Clint Eastwood and is blurring the boundaries of jazz and pop”.

He certainly adores performing, so there wasn’t long to wait. After a few chords from the 50-piece Heritage Orchestra the diminutive star bounded onstage for his all-action show.

In this regard the hyperactive Cullum is an ideal choice for the late-show Prom. Jumping on and off the piano; playing it while standing, Jerry Lee Lewis style; body popping while his saxman Tom Richards and trumpeter Rory Simmons were blowing, and generally never keeping still for a nano-second, he looked as thrilled to be starting work at 10.15pm as a child allowed to stay up late on Christmas Eve.

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It was nonetheless a super-slick show, reflecting not only his vast touring experience but much hard rehearsal. There were tender love songs and
vintage standards such as Just One Of Those Things and If I Ruled The World — “which should recall either Harry Secombe or Tony Bennett, according to how cool you are”, plus a classy duet with guest guitarist Martin Taylor on Blame It On My Youth.

Cullum’s piano work had improved significantly, and just as well, because time waits for nobody. “I’m 31 now,” he confessed after his album hit,

Twentysomething. “A 31-year-old man-boy, still flying high for all you confused twentysomethings out there.”

And with some singalongs, clap-alongs, a brief screamalong and a big gospel-flavoured encore, he was gone. As ever, full marks for effort.

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