Apparently, absence does make the heart grow fonder, and a sold-out Amalie Arena assured Canadian crooner Michael Bublé of the fact during his tour kickoff in Tampa.
Bublé is back after taking a five-year hiatus from touring and recording to take care of family matters (his young son’s cancer diagnosis), and his dazzling performance — plus a superb command of both his voice and adoring audience — proved that he’s better than ever. Supporting his 2018 release, Love, the charmer’s overwhelming display of sight and sound instantly made every person inside the arena realize how much they’d missed this consummate artist.
The arena’s massive stage was replete with an enormous, dramatic setup that featured more than 30 musicians including a full horn section, a string section and a conductor to lead the musical proceedings. As bright, beaming red spotlights flooded the stage, Bublé appeared at the very top of the multi-tiered bandstand and was met with a passionate, deafening roar.
Instantly launching into “Feeling Good” from his multiplatinum 2005 album It’s Time, the man of the hour made it immediately clear that time away has not had any negative effects on his clear, warm and sincere vocal tone. Sounding spectacular from the first note he sang, Bublé also looked just as sparkling as he sounded.
Donning a smart, fitted black suit, black spats and stylish tie (and without a hair out of place), the star of the show made it very obvious that he’s in a totally different category than most of his modern day contemporaries by effortlessly belting out both standards and pop tunes. Making use of every inch of the large stage — including the ellipse that surrounded an area of standing ticket holders, a long, narrow catwalk and a small, second stage in the center of the arena — Bublé did everything he could to get as close and personal to his audience. Constantly mugging for cameras, shaking hands, delivering fist bumps and waving to fans in the stands, Bublé is the rare breed who knows how to work a room — even if that room happens to be an enormous hockey arena.
With a gift for comedy and engaging storytelling, Bublé took plenty of opportunities to deliver hilarious anecdotes, including comparing the population of nearby Sarasota (where he’s spent some leisure time) to the cast of zombies on The Walking Dead. By comically imitating and quoting his Argentinian wife, Bublé made a case that he could easily moonlight as an engaging and entertaining comedian.
But some somber moments showed his human side, and there was more than one occasion where Bublé was obviously choking up and having difficulty getting the words out of his mouth. A poignant moment came when Bublé singled out the doctor responsible for seeing his son’s treatment though and ultimately saving his life.
Still, Bublé’s greatest asset — his voice — gained strength and richness as the night progressed. He was as potent during his stirring version of “My Funny Valentine” as he was infectious during an homage to former singer and trumpet player Louis Prima. Performing two of the late bandleader’s signature tunes, “Buona Sera” and “Just a Gigolo,” Bublé turned the event into a dance party. As a nod to those who may feel uncomfortable or uneasy cutting loose, Bublé put no pressure on those folks.
“But if it feels good, shake that shit,” he added as the crowd erupted.
The singer also asked someone in the audience to sing a song he’d likely belt out in the shower. The fan started on an impressive version of the soul classic, “Me and Mrs. Jones” and was immediately flanked by an overzealous and forceful fan who took it upon herself to make the performance a duet. It was a totally unplanned moment, Bublé assured, but nonetheless one that added to the night’s unpredictable and lighthearted mood.
Bublé wrapped his two-hour headlining set with a moving version of the ballad, “Always on My Mind” and dedicated it to those who have continued to support him for so long and continue to do so.
“I love you all so much” Bublé uttered as this triumphant show came to an end.
By the look, the sound and the affection the crowd was feeding him all night, it was more than obvious that each and every person in the crowd loves him right back.