Last Night: Jamie Cullum at Lakewood Theater

Jamie Cullum
Lakewood Theater
July 14, 2010

Better than: hearing Ali Fedotowsky's voice dubbed over Jamie Cullum's private concert on The Bachelorette.

JamieCullum460.jpg
Jamie Cullum

"It's not like this everywhere," a stunned and humbled Jamie Cullum said to the proud roaring crowd during his encore last night. Hands clasped at his torso, he continued to bow over and over with gratitude.

You'd think, by now, Cullum would have turned into a self-absorbed, power-hungry musician. He hasn't. He's wildly talented (he plays piano, drums, guitar as well as sings), and he tours so he can share his music with his fans, whom he honestly seems to consider his friends.

Cullum came out and, with a wave and without a word, immediately sat at the piano to play "I'm All Over It" in dark gray jeans, a blue dress shirt, a tie and jacket.

Over the course of the first three numbers, clothing items slowly came off. He rolled his sleeves up, lost the tie, untucked his shirt. He was coming undone--literally and musically. With each adjustment to his clothing, he became more involved and passionate with the music. By song four ("All At Sea"), he was just a guy in a T-shirt and jeans playing the best jazz you've ever heard.

An elementary-aged little boy in an orange polo cheered by clapping. A middle-aged fan was grinding with her significant other with her hands in the air. A cultured jazz listener looked on with awe. The diversity in the crowd was stunning, but the overwhelming sense from all was a proud friend saying "That's our boy!" With each passing instrument solo, the crowd grew louder in its audible amazement. For a good reason, too.

Cullum's hands seemed to have a brain of their own, moving almost independently from the rest of his body. Standing hunkered over the piano with his head bobbing, his fingers hammered out the quick, improvised notes. Even when he wasn't playing an instrument, his hands still were. During his cover of "I Get A Kick Out Of You," his fingers wrapped around the microphone, beating out what notes they would be playing on the keys while he sang the piano part.

A hush fell over the crowd as Cullum whispered the lyrics of "I Get Along Without You Very Well." Outside of his raspy and crystal clear pitch, the only other noise in the packed theater was from the bartender popping off a beer bottle cap. Accidentally orchestrated, like the best jazz, it was a perfect moment in the night.

While Cullum was clearly the star of the show, his band mates were hardly faded into the background. Each member had at least a five-minute solo, and deservedly so. Bassist Chris Hill shined as he played an interlude before being the solo accompanist on the following song.

The big surprise of the night was the appearance of Cullum's brother, Ben Cullum. He wrote "These Are The Days" for the 2003 album Twentysomething. During the show, the two sang the song as a duet. Another moment that showed the welcome absence of a star-sized ego.

Between sitting and standing at the piano, cracking jokes about Texas to jumping off the piano bed, Cullum entertained his audience for the entire two-hour set.

It's not a show that anyone will easily forget.

Today, exhausted fans from the show are probably Googling the opening act, Gin Wigmore. A raunchy Bridget Jones with a voice like Adele's, she was the perfect complement to Cullum.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
Despite an early deadline, I waiteded late at the tour bus to meet Cullum. He signed my CD, took a picture with me and gave me a kiss. I guess you could say I'm in love with him.

By the Way: A few songs in, Jamie said he was "sweating like a whore in a church. Isn't that what you guys say in Texas?" A woman on the front row, who may or may not have been my mother, offered her hand-held fan for him to borrow. He gave her a kiss.

Random Quote: "I now only do gigs where there are pink illuminated naked women," Cullum said in reference to Lakewood's décor.

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