My Date With Jamie Cullum!
I’ve been a fan of Jamie Cullum for many years now. Evidently, my nomination for the highly esteemed Chozen Award has left me pretty cocky. I decided I would send Jamie a Facebook e-mail earlier this week. Maybe his career aspirations included being interviewed for Radiopotato.com. Oddly, he didn’t respond – but whatever.
Anyway, I’ve already forgiven him for not responding (read: forgotten that I even sent it) and went to his show anyway. This modern-day jazz-pop performer ransacked Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Center’s stage with his energy and played the hell out of his brilliant songs on the piano. I’ve been fairly open about how much I hate cover songs, but I’d like to add an asterisk to my comment. Typically, I think cover songs are a lazy way out of writing your own material and just throwing a lame spin on it. In Jamie’s case, he re-works the entire song where it’s practically unrecognizable to the original. He’s been described as a cross between Harry Connick, Jr, meets Billy Joel meets Norah Jones. So for someone who has made a name for himself covering the 1940’s singers and standards, he’s done one hell of a job on a cover of Pharrell Williams’ hip hop song “Frontin'” and making it a dazzling lounge-y jazz song including innovatively using every part of his piano to create the percussion. DAMN! I posted my amateur videography from the actual show here, and you can see the professional version from another concert below:
Jamie’s audience was buzzing with a slightly more geriatric crowd than I’m used to seeing at my shows – but spirited to say the least. We were sitting floor-level and right in back of the sound engineer. Perfect view. You had crazy girl in the tight orange shirt gyrating in one of the box seats up top – looking like she was looking for a pole to swing on. Right next to her was a lady who’s dancing reminds me a lot of my mom’s hot moves at any wedding. Aside from that, Jamie had the entire crowd on their feet for most of the time and had random standing ovations throughout the whole performance.
First, I had a smile on my face the entire time. Secondly, I’m always interested to see how artists can REALLY connect with an audience that fills a sizable concert hall. Jamie took his entire band and instruments and went mobile(including a stand-up bass). He came right into a small floor space among the seats and just started playing music in the audience. He even invited the entire audience all the way up to the front, despite obvious fire hazards and secret service-looking dudes magically appearing on either side of the stage.
Here’s what I was the most impressed with. The jazz genre is typically very difficult to understand for pop-oriented ears. The chords don’t seem to make sense. The beats seem irregular and the music seems to go all over the place. Since Jamie’s music spans over pop, jazz, blues, hip-hop, originals, classics like “I Only Have Eyes For You,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary,” and even Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” he’s able to meld these genres together and give Top 40 ears a way to actually learn to appreciate and begin to understand the fine art of jazz. Not only that, his high-energy performance at the piano truly rivals the skill, talent, and agility of piano legends Elton John and Billy Joel. Throw all of these factors together and you’ve got a very palatable musical collection that will blow the doors wide open on a person’s musical tastes.
There were two drawbacks to this show. The first is that the show ended. The second was that he didn’t play my favorite song, “Twentysomething.” I guess now that he’s 30, he’s ditched it? Well, fine. Here it is:
Jamie Cullum is currently the best-selling jazz artist of all time in the UK (um, he’s only 30 and achieved it when he was 25!). He’s wildly popular worldwide and is still working on having a bigger musical footprint in the US. He just released a new album called The Pursuit (great interview posted here) and is currently on tour. If he’s coming to your city, it’s completely worth every penny you would spend. So fun!
Oh, and by the way, he’s touring with Imelda May. She’s a peculiar artist as she looks like an alternative Gwen Stefani that is from Ireland and sings rockabilly. Great opening act and fascinating to see this niche genre come into full spotlight!
Thanks for reading and as always, your comments are welcome below. -Allison