It was a show. It was entertaining. You got your money's worth. I oftentimes don't want to go anymore. Because it's an endurance test. Unless you know the songs by heart, it can be positively brutal as you sit there, too often stand there, as the act plays its music at a deafening volume one song after the other. There's no show in this show business. Or else it's all show. As in an assault. Believing if you just throw enough production at the audience it will be satiated.
But Buble is something different.
Let's start with the material. I'm a rocker, who graduated from Broadway musicals. It's all about the song. Decades past I would see Buble as middle of the road schlock. But all these years later, when songcraft has gone out the window, too often replaced by beats sans melody, it's positively refreshing to hear Buble sing. Without special aural effects on hard drive. Backed up by a big band that went to college to learn how to play.
Oh, that's one of the highlights of the show. When each horn player is paraded on the big screen like the NFL on Fox. With the twirling visage and the stats. In this case, blue chip music schools like Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music. In an era where fame trumps everything, it thrills one to see these dudes with chops who earned their positions over time and can deliver unselfconsciously.
Yes, there is a big screen. There is production.
But it doesn't overwhelm the show. And it enters gradually.
It all starts with Buble.
You know what he did that endeared me to him?
Not even ten minutes into the show he stopped and talked...for what seemed like eons, really, longer than it took to sing the couple of songs he started out with. I've never seen anybody do this at a rock show. They're afraid. Of losing the audience, of not delivering expectations. But a true pro, which Buble is, knows it's about endearing yourself, creating a bond. And Buble does this without pandering, without going lowest common denominator mainstream. Sure, he picks the birthday girl out of the audience, but it's almost as if...let's get this out of the way, so we can do the real show.
And what a show it is.
This is not rock concert seedy. Nor tweenybopper mindless. It's like an evening out for something you could never get in.
That's the problem today. With movies and too often concerts.
It's better at home.
Sure, you can't feel the crowd at home, which you oftentimes would not want to, but there's nothing special about being there other than being there. Whereas at a Buble show you get the feeling it's one moment in time, an escape from the modern day world of too many screens.
So you enjoy yourself.
I enjoyed myself.
P.S. Paul Anka told me he owes the success of his book to Howard Stern.
P.P.S. Buble is nothing without his team. Of label, manager, promoter and producer, all of whom were there. David Foster got it started. He brought on fellow Canadian Bruce Allen as manager. Diarmuid Quinn and his team no longer at Warner, because the acts remain and the execs get fired, pushed the record. And Don Fox sold the tickets. At the first show in Arizona, the count was in the single digits. Barely into doubles in Salt Lake City. You start off slow. And you build. If you believe. If you deliver.
P.P.P.S. Staples was sold out. And if you go regularly, you know it's nearly impossible to sell the upper deck, above the three levels of skyboxes. But Buble did. Not instantly. As a matter of fact, the first day numbers were less than half of what they were for the previous tour. But Don said "We'll get there." Which they did, via advertising, marketing, promotion. In other words, the job of the promoter is not to rent the hall and pay the act, but SELL THE TICKETS! That's something the oldsters know how to do and the youngsters, operating behind the corporate wall, too often do not.
P.P.P.P.S. Oldsters... Not the audience, Buble appeals to everybody, but white hair was not predominant. But it was backstage. You see everybody involved with building Buble is a lifer. Who was bitten by the bug back when music drove the culture, when not only was it the Facebook of its day, but Twitter, iPhone and HBO too. This generation will not live forever. It's not sure who their replacements will be. Because too many oldsters have not allowed youngsters to thrive and too many youngsters find other businesses appealing, whereas in the sixties and seventies everybody wanted to work in music. We're ripe for revolution and reinvention. And it won't be about sponsorships and other corporate connections, but the show itself. Back to basics.
P.P.P.P.P.S. Buble is so normal. And he walks a fine line between hip and not so. You want to be part of your audience's life, yet just a little above it. It's a skill, learned over time.
P.P.P.P.P.P.S. The climax is the end, when Buble appears in front of the curtain and sings Leon Russell's "A Song For You" a cappella, without a mic. It's positively thrilling. My body is shivering as I type. Because that's what it's all about. The song and the performance. Everything else is just window dressing.