An Evening With Michael Bublé 2021 North American Tour
Reviewed by Kevin Rolfe
When you buy tickets to a concert, the show already seems so far away as it is. Throw in four, yes, four rescheduled dates, and the anticipation for that show has grown to an all-time high. Either that or you kind of expect the show to never actually happen! For me, it was the first feeling. Michael Bublé, one of the biggest entertainers in the world, finally made good on his tour stop at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, the postponements and reschedules weren’t really his fault. The pandemic is to blame for that. I think Bublé and his team were optimistic that things would get better quicker than they did, hence the hopeful new dates. But as I walked past the long line to enter the arena, I could see the excitement on everyone’s face.
The lines were so long around Vivint Arena because the venue is requiring a proof of vaccination or a negative test for Covid-19. I’m not a scientist. I have no idea if that helps slow down the spread, if we’re actually safe because of this protocal, or what. I have to say for myself, it does bring peace of mind. It at least feels safer to be in a venue that large with thousands of people who are at least showing that precautions were enacted to be there. I have to hand it to the Vivint Arena staff. They seemed to work quickly. And the show began only 20 minutes later than the announced starting time. From what I could see the fans seemed to be patient and understanding as well. I hope that is always the case going forward.
There was no opener for this show. That can be a risky move. The headliner carries all the responsibility of not only entertaining but getting the crowd warmed up. My concerns were very quickly wiped away as soon as this show started. The massive 33 piece orchestra (to my count at least. There were so many people on those risers I could have missed some!) got into place and the lights quickly dimmed.
In the darkness we hear, “Birds flyin’ high, you know how I feel”. The crowd roars. “Sun in the sky, you know how I feel.” The crowd roars louder. There is now a silhouette of the man of the hour. “It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. For me. And I’m feelin’ gooooooood”. The lights go up! Michael Bublé was at the top of the orchestra riser and began to make his way down a huge set of stairs. The audience is letting out full throated cheers as the horn section blares. It’s a perfect opener. The audience was seated, which is expected for a show like this. But they were immediately into it and warmed up.
“Feeling Good” was a huge breakout song for Bublé in the mid-2000s and has been a signature song for him ever since. I saw him back in 2005 when he recorded his Caught in the Act concert film. He opened with this song that night too. It still holds the same weight as it did back in 2005.
I started to think I had a sense of how this night would go. Enthusiastic crowd, on top of his game entertainer, it’s going to be a good night. Then came the second song of the night, “Haven’t Met You Yet”. The audience flew out of their seats and started singing and dancing with a ferver I did not expect. I really didn’t see that coming. There was a catwalk that went out over halfway across the arena floor and when Michael Bublé made his way across the catwalk it was like a wave of electricity followed him. I expected this concert to be great. But this show packed so much more punch to it than I ever anticipated.
The reason I always call Michael Bublé an Entertainer is due to the fact that the guy is more than just his silky smooth voice. He’s part stand-up comedian, part storyteller, and of course the main part, and incredible vocalist. Bublé shared that he was happy to be back on the road. He joked that he was a terrible home school teacher. He apologized for the multiple reschedules and would understand if we hated him for it. A special moment was when he showed a large group of nurses on the big screen. They were from Utah and his invited guests. He wanted to honor them because he has a great appreciation for healthcare workers after associating with them during his son’s difficult health issues as a baby. The nurses of course received a large ovation. I really love when bands and musicians do things like that.
Understandably the attention is going to fall directly to a solo artist. There are no other band members that share the focus. But I thought Michael Bublé did a great job acknowledging his huge orchestra and band. He shared with us that the entire string section was actually from Utah. My guess is that they are part of the Utah Symphony. But it was exciting to hear that. I’m sure that was an awesome experience for them! He interacted often with his backup singers. They seemed to have a great rapport. He even joined them, choreographed moves and all, when he invited his trumpet player, Jumaane Smith to take the microphone for a song.
It has become a tradition at a Michael Bublé concert for an audience member to be invited on stage to sing with Michael. But due to ongoing pandemic concerns, Bublé has been advised not to do. So he shared that he came up with an invention to still make this possible. The Canadian singer showed us a hockey stick with a microphone attached to the end. He asked who wanted to sing with him and finally picked a woman to come to the foot of the catwalk.
She shared that it was on her bucket list to duet with Bublé. I’m sorry if I get the name wrong, but I believe her name was Martina Chan from Salt Lake City. She chose to sing “Everything” one of Michael Bublé’s biggest hits. They had a fun time working their way through the song and the audience again was generous in their applause.
There were a lot of heartfelt moments in this concert. One, in particular, was when Bublé dedicated his song “Home” to the men and women of the military. He shared that when he wrote the song he didn’t realize the impact it would have on the service women and men of “Our great countries”. The song really took on a new meaning when I listened to it from that perspective.
My favorite part of the show (A little inside joke. Bublé would say that at each new part of the show. But this really was my favorite part.) was when the show moved to the end of the catwalk where Bublé performed with a small eight-piece band. He shared with us that the thing about performing in arenas is he’s not able to perform in clubs as much anymore. Clubs were where he got his start. His plumber grandfather would exchange plumbing services for stage time for a teenage Michael. Bublé hoped that he make Vivint Arena feel like a club and shared that this is what it would have looked like when he was 16. He entertained the audience with classic songs like “Buena Sera”, “Just A Gigolo”, “You Never Can Tell” and “Nobody But Me”.
Michael Bublé transitioned from his eight-piece band to the huge orchestra with the final song of his main set, “Cry Me a River”. It’s a grand, and rousing arrangement of this song and a very impactful way for Bublé to make his first departure from the stage. It shows off his voice and the might of this orchestra. He walked off to a standing ovation.
In his encore, he reprised his big hit, “Everything”. Solo this time. People were on their feet and clapping along. It’s a catchy song that I could tell people were dying to hear him perform. He finished the night with a song that was a surprise to me. I was unaware that he covered the Willie Nelson classic, “Always on My Mind”. It’s weird I didn’t know that because he covered it years ago. Anyway, it was a very pleasant surprise for me. I love that song.
My only nitpick would be that it might not have been the song to end the night on. I only say that because it seemed like the audience was ready for another upbeat tune. Maybe his cover of “Save the Last Dance For Me” or “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”? It just felt like the crowd had more clapping along and dancing left in them. That being said, I loved the performance of “Always On My Mind”.
I asked some people as they filed out of the arena what they thought. The overall consensus was that it was as good as they hoped it would be. Some said it was well worth the wait. Others said tongue and cheekily, that they hope he comes back sooner, but with fewer reschedules. I didn’t hear any negative comments. Michael Bublé is the consummate professional performer. The show went a full two hours and I felt like it zipped by. Everything flowed. We laughed, we were touched, and we cheered. What more could you possibly want from a concert?