(London Palladium, 5 October 2021. First night of two. Review by Lavender Sutton)
Jamie Cullum‘s two nights at the London Palladium had been long anticipated. In fact, he made a point of saying that some people had bought their tickets more than years ago. Loyal fans indeed.
The show started out with a poignant number called The Age of Anxiety. It had touching quiet moments that featured Cullum’s stellar baritone voice punctuated by the whole band in moments of togetherness that brought a real warmth into the room. It was such a feel-good way to start the show.
Most of the tunes that followed were featured on the album Taller (2019). Presumably, this was meant to be the album tour… The next tune, and title track, brought him out from behind the piano, engaging with the audience. The band took on so many different permutations, which really kept the audience interested, and in a way, tricked them into experiencing the more jazz-esque nature of Cullum’s tastes.
After a few familiar classics with Get Your Way from a 2003 album, and a The Killers cover tune called The Man, Cullum gathered the instrumentalists in the middle of the stage and explained to the audience about how he started off playing music as a 15 year old, playing Cole Porter tunes in a piano bar.
He has performed I Get a Kick Out of You on previous gigs (check out the one where he stomps on the piano, but prepare to gasp in horror) but this one was a particularly nice touch and allowed trumpeter Rory Simmons and saxophonist Tom Richards a chance to show off their jazz chops, leaving the crowd more blown away than expected.
Cullum then dismissed the rest of the band and played a solo version of Love Is in the Picture, and a duo version of the standard What a Difference a Day Makes with bassist Loz Garrett, dedicated to Bruce Forsyth’s nights at The Palladium where Jamie had been a guest.
He has such a knack for singing right in the pocket of his voice, rich with texture. He knows how to manipulate notes vocally and impress with his piano technique. Many of Cullum’s songs tend to have a where-have-I-heard-this-lick-before feel to them, but it’s a good kind of familiarity, especially for jazz fans.
After these few tender moments, Cullum shared a “lockdown story”, in which he explained how his most recent album The Pianoman at Christmas came about in a desperate attempt to keep busy (and avoid stepping on Michael Buble’s toes). The result – 10 original Christmas songs – hasn’t really been given a debut, and so the audience was asked to politely pretend it was Christmas for six and a half minutes on Hang Your Lights . The background vocalists showed off their hidden talents of swing dancing and even the stage lights joined in the holiday spirit.
A final quiet moment, Mankind, where the band all left their instruments at their seats and came to the edge of the stage for an a capella (plus a bit of bass) treat. It was intended to be a meaningful moment but was maybe lost on the audience as they marched up and down the aisles to the bar. Cullum took the hint though, as the rest of the set definitely flipped the mood. When I Get Famous, Sinnerman, and Usher got the party started. He made his way into the crowd and climbed up onto the orchestra pit, encouraging fans to dance in their seats, jump up and down and join in.
It was really nice to have a blending of styles, a top-notch band with a killing horn section and everyone having a really nice time because of it. Cullum’s stage presence was contagious and while he could have left them wanting more, he finished the night with a solo rendition of All at Sea which left everyone with that same warm-fuzzy feeling that they started with. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Jamie Cullum – piano and lead vocals
Brad Webb – Drums
Loz Garratt – Bass/Upright Bass
Tom Varrall – Guitar
Tom Richards – organ, sax, clarinet, percussion
Rory Simmons – Trumpet
Tom Walsh – Trumpet
Alistair White – Trombone
Aisha Stuart and Marc Henderson – Backing Vocals