August 15, 2022

Review: Michael Bublé helps Tampa fans get 'Higher'

Michael Bublé plays Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 13, 2022.
Photo by Phil DeSimone
Michael Bublé plays Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 13, 2022.
Crooning, class, and style have never gone out of fashion for Michael Bublé. The 46-year-old Canadian vocalist is the consummate showman and his charm and sense of humor only enhance his appeal and his affability. The nearly sold-out crowd that claimed almost every seat of downtown Tampa’s Amalie Arena got the chance to experience Bublé’s visually and sonically stunning return to the area (following his last visit in 2019) and were treated to a spectacular show.

Dressed elegantly in all black, the suited and stylish singer made his initial onstage appearance in what appeared to resemble a daredevil act. Seemingly strutting across the top edge of the very large, onstage bandstand that housed his enormous orchestra, it wasn’t until the star of the show emerged from a hydraulically-lifted platform from below the stage that his true presence was known. Coinciding with his dramatic onstage arrival was an enormous display of dazzling sparkles that rained from the lighting trusses near the arena’s roof. Talk about dramatic entrances.

Opening with “Feeling Good,” the ‘60s show tune penned by British songwriter Anthony Newley which kicks off Bublé’s 2005 It’s Time album, the singer was in fine vocal and physical shape. Whether flipping his microphone, kicking his mic stand, or swaggering his way across the stage, the boyishly handsome artist never missed an opportunity to enthrall while letting his greatest asset, his smooth voice, fill the cavernous hockey arena.

Benefitting from a full string section alongside an exquisite horn section, a musical director and three backup singers, Bublé shared the stage with more than 30 accompanists. While his vocals seemed a little drowned out early in his set, his large orchestra’s presence was crystal clear thanks to a fine mix and some great sound engineering.

Not one to stay still for very long, Bublé made great use of the large, slender catwalk that extended from the main stage all the way to the middle of the arena. And, as another example of the dynamic sound his crew helped bring to life, the singer’s vocals became amplified throughout the venue as he made his way to different zones of the elongated stage, which was a clever touch.

Prompting the audience to get up and let loose, much of the mostly female patrons quickly accepted the invitation and rose to sing along with and dance to his 2009 hit “Haven’t Met You Yet,” one of his finest original compositions written for his current wife, Argentinian singer, actress, and singer Luisana Lopilato, not long after they’d initially met.

“I’m genuinely thrilled that I get to share my life with you” Bublé announced during one of his many between-song addresses to the fans. While affirmations of this sort can often ring of phoniness from performers, there’s something about Bublé’s delivery that makes him come across as totally believable. His constant interaction with his public was evident throughout the night; on more than one occasion, the singer asked for house lights to be brought up so he could get a better look at his fans. Engaging with them, talking to them, reading their homemade signs they brought along, high fiving them and signing few autographs along the way (including signatures for each of a pair of eight-year-old twins who were attending their first concert, according to their signs), Michael Bublé’s actions seem totally legit, which is another reason why he’s so beloved by so many.
Benefitting from a full string section alongside an exquisite horn section, a musical director and three backup singers, Bublé shared the stage with more than 30 accompanists when he played Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 13, 2022. - Photo by Phil DeSimone
Photo by Phil DeSimone
Benefitting from a full string section alongside an exquisite horn section, a musical director and three backup singers, Bublé shared the stage with more than 30 accompanists when he played Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida on Aug. 13, 2022.

“We’ve gone through a lot. I don’t want to get deep, but we’ve been through hell and lots of stupid Zoom calls,” the artist spoke while lamenting about the world’s Covid-related struggles, while throwing in a bit of levity. “If this is the first big show you’ve been to, then let your shit go!” he continued, referring to the possibility of this night being audience members’ first post-Covid musical outing of this scale and encouraging them to make the most of it.

Juggling a variety of standards and well-known classics with his own material, Bublé offered plenty of highlights and memorable moments throughout his two-hour performance. Adding his own panache to songs from the catalogs of Nat King Cole, The Bee Gees, and Dean Martin, Bublé openly admitted his enthrallment of old standards. “I have them in me,” he earnestly announced, “…but I’m also an incredibly humble songwriter” he joked, before thanking country singer and television star Blake Shelton for making him “a lot of money,” thanks to his recording “Home,” another 2005 hit for Bublé. In a more serious moment, he dedicated the song to the servicemen and women who protect our country, for which he received a heartfelt roar of approval from the audience.

Again, showing off his comedic side, he vowed to donate the proceeds of that song to the arena to acquire proper air conditioning, no doubt due to the heat he was feeling in full suit and beneath a swarm of hot lights. “Your hockey teams deserves it!” he laughed before name checking several well-known Lightning players.

Bublé’s current single, “Higher,” the title track from his current album and the namesake of the tour he’s in the midst of, found the singer, accompanied by his three backup singers, appearing on all the jumbo screens throughout the arena in slick choreographed video montages while they performed the lively pop song live. As the horn players were not required for this number, those musicians stood for the song and danced and swayed along to it in unison.

While speaking of his love of music and listing his musical heroes and influences, Bublé included Elvis Presley to that mix and mentioned a posthumous “duet” he recorded with Presley some years back. In doing so, he also spoke of the current interest in Presley’s music, thanks to the recently released Baz Luhrmann biopic about the rock and roll legend. Those shoutouts were the perfect lead-in to the Elvis-themed portion of the show.

With a portion of his large band assembled at a mini-stage at the end of the catwalk, the singer slowly and coolly slinked to join them at that spot as they played the recognizable, bass-heavy intro of the next number, “Fever,” the Little Willie John blues classic later popularized by vocalist Peggy Lee and also recorded by The King. To follow, Bublé strapped on an acoustic guitar and strummed along with the small band to perform the impassioned Elvis classic “One Night with You.” After a few more Presley songs, the mood shifted and, as massive amounts of confetti were dropped, Bublé and group launched into “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” 1974 dance/pre-disco hit from R&B performer and composer, the late Barry White, and got the entire audience up and out of its seats.

To close the main set, Bublé delivered a heartfelt version of the Sam Cooke classic, “Bring it On Home to Me” with the help of several more backing singers who joined for this one number and helped give the song a gospel feel.

For his four-song encore, the singer delivered impressive readings of some classics including Marvin Gaye’s jaunty classic “How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You),” but the standout was a dramatic, string and horn-heavy arrangement of the torch classic “Cry Me a River” that sounded hauntingly like a mysterious, ominous James Bond-era film theme song.

Before ending and offering his farewells and his earnest appreciation, Bublé muttered “Go Panthers,” as a jab to the Tampa Bay Lightnings fans in the house by mentioning the team’s rivals. Amid boos and random “Let’s Go Lightning” chants breaking out, the singer, who is himself a huge hockey fan, admitted “I’m not a Tampa Bay Lightning guy. Sorry. You’re too good!” while laughing. “What’s it like to win all the shit all the time? What’s it like, Tampa?” he goaded regarding our area teams who’ve won several championships over the last few years. “Fine. I’ll cheer for the stupid Lightning” he concluded in jest which drew massive cheers.

For his final number, Bublé ended in true showbiz style. Closing with the familiar ballad “Always on My Mind,” more flowing sparklers fell and the stage curtain was slowly and deliberately dropped to signal the end of the night.

“I promise to come back to play for you all when I’m an old man!” Bublé joked during the encore when admitting to how much he loves what he does and how lucky he is to do it. Based on stellar performances like this one and the sheer spectacle and Vegas-like appeal of the show local fans were treated to on this night, it’s certain those followers will continue to buy tickets if the singer continues to revisit the area.
Scroll down to view images

Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future.


Review: Michael Bublé helps Tampa fans get 'Higher' and 'let your shit go'
Photo by Phil DeSimone
Review: Michael Bublé helps Tampa fans get 'Higher' and 'let your shit go'
Photo by Phil DeSimone
Review: Michael Bublé helps Tampa fans get 'Higher' and 'let your shit go'
Photo by Phil DeSimone
Review: Michael Bublé helps Tampa fans get 'Higher' and 'let your shit go'
Photo by Phil DeSimone

Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future.