In the San Francisco Bay Area we are blessed to have as much entertainment available within as little as an hour’s drive or BART ride, and many place less than that. Music, sports, theater, are a few of the options, many playing at the same time. So, when I heard Michael Bublé was playing little did I know of the Oakland A’s game right next door that same night. A BART train was my option to travel to the Oracle Arena, and it was packed with a mix of fans all trying to get to the same place at the same time. It made for an energetic atmosphere. Once there, the diverse crowds walked together until a complete and noticeable divide occurred at the ballpark’s main gate. The young and rowdy split from the more matured and reserved (at least for this night’s occasions) like a confluence on the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada.
The Fraser flows from eastern B.C. up to Prince George the southward past Burnaby, B.C. where Bublé grew up. He spent his formative years there learning some of the hardest lessons about life and work aboard a fishing boat for months at a time. He learned a lot about singing, too, but instead of old, salty sea shanties, he took up listening to his grandfather’s jazz records. This laid the basis for his love of music, and what would become his musical calling.
Since those days in and around Burnaby, Bublé has made a huge impact on music and entertainment for nearly 18 years. It’s been over 15 years since his self-titled debut album Michael Bublé in 2003. And the nominations and countless awards from Grammys to Junos to AMA’s and others comprise a list like no other. To say he’s great might be an understatement: Bublé is spectacular. His dedication to his touring schedule only took a break after dealing with a family crisis a few short years ago. He retired (as it was reported) from the business and his fans allowed him to break away for all the time he needed. His fans, from the word fanatic, in his words, “isn’t what you guys are, though. You’re family”. And that’s what his huge message carries on his return to the road. He wants to spread that reminder to folks that they matter to him and his love is what he wants to give to them in return.
Bublé brings a 32 piece orchestra with him on the road plus 3 backup singers. Along with stellar musicians is a well assembled stage show replete with a remote stage at center floor, big enough for a 7-piece ensemble, gem shaped night club lighting, video screens of all sizes, and a first class light show big enough for any large arena.
Take a look at the setlist below to see a wonderful mix of influences along with his own songs. During the show I had a hard time telling which was an original Bublé vs. a cover. His style takes over and makes each song his own. It’s an nearly seamless flow of generations, moving from one era to the next and back again.
His style is certainly his own, which makes for a unique experience. I think that’s what packed the nearly sold out arena. From front to back, and from the floor to the rafters people, the crowd came to see his show for those special few hours. A little less than an hour into his set Bublé told the adoring crowd that he was gonna make this huge show kinda small, taking us back to the days where he performed some of his favorite songs in clubs. A seven-piece band and a few backup singers joined him at the center circle stage to jazz it up, knocking out 4 or more songs, and ending with the fun, Chuck Berry tune “You Never Can Tell”. This was the highlight of the night! Dancing up on stage was the rest of the musicians while Bublé and the band were on the remote stage.
Great moments seemed plentiful at the show that night. An audience member and an Oracle employee each singing with Bublé was only the beginning. And a hometown welcome to Bublé’s pianist and writing partner, Alan Chang (San Jose, CA). There must have been 40 friends and family there for him. It was a beautiful thing.
Catch Michael Bublé in Portland, OR tonight and in Seattle, WA on Saturday. He’s heading into Canada a week after and then onto Europe.
Feeling Good (Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley cover)
Haven’t Met You Yet
My Funny Valentine (Rodgers & Hart cover)
I Only Have Eyes for You (Harry Warren cover)
Sway (Dean Martin cover)
Such a Night (Johnnie Ray cover)
(Up A) Lazy River (Hoagy Carmichael cover)
When You’re Smiling (Seger Ellis cover)
A Whole New World (Alan Menken cover) (Performed with audience member Diana Fairbanks)
At Last (Etta James cover) (Performed by Oracle Arena employee Anitra)
You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (Russ Morgan and His Orchestra cover)
When I Fall in Love (Jeri Southern cover)
Love You Anymore
Buona Sera Signorina (Louis Prima cover)
Just a Gigolo / I Ain’t Got Nobody (Louis Prima cover)
You Never Can Tell (Chuck Berry cover)
Cry Me a River (Julie London cover)
Where or When (Rodgers & Hart cover)
Always on My Mind