Michael Bublé, the definition of “old school,” performed pop standards to a nearly sold-out crowd at Energy Solutions Arena Tuesday night that was whipped into such a frenzy you’d think it was Ol’ Blue Eyes crooning to them from the stage.
Bublé is undoubtedly a showman, making an entrance with jets of flame and the song “Fever” and quickly transitioning into his radio hit “Haven’t Met You Yet.”
He took several minutes throughout his two-hour performance to interact with the audience, autographing signs and leading the crowd in “Happy Birthday” for a woman named Phyllis who was celebrating her 83rd birthday, according to the sign her group was holding.
Someone threw a Jazz onesie to Bublé on the stage, who excitedly talked about becoming a father recently, “calling it the icing on the cake you didn’t even know existed,” while lacing that commentary with the sardonic humor he employed all night.
“The greatest moment of my life was finding out he was mine,” he said. “I was sure he was going to end up looking like that devilishly handsome baritone saxophone player over there.”
He also took a moment to rib fellow Canuck Justin Bieber.
“Friends will tell you that having a baby is the hardest thing in the world, but it’s way easier than dealing with Justin Bieber,” he said.
Bublé’s song selections during the Salt Lake City stop, in support of his 2013 album “To Be Loved,” included many crooner classics, including “Try a Little Tenderness,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Come Dance with Me,” and “I’ve Got the World on a String.”
As he launched into the love-song section of the evening, he told the audience he began listening to such songs because of his grandfather, a self-described “hopeless romantic.”
“In a world as cynical as this one, we need some more of that,” he said. “For the couples young and old out there, this is the time for you to snuggle up with each other. For you single folks out there, this is the a great time to become part of a threesome.”
Bublé was backed by a 13-piece band, including an impressive eight-man saxophone and horns section, and, for the first time in his touring career, he brought along an eight-piece string section as well.
He thanked the audience for their support over the years before he launched into his song “Home.”
“You changed my life and my family’s life,” he said. “Thank you for welcoming me and bringing me in like you have.”
To mix things up and add energy to the show, Bublé walked through the audience to a circular catwalk at the back of the floor to sing several Motown hits with openers Naturally 7, who put on an impressive show themselves.
The seven-man group uses just their voices to emulate every instrument needed for rock and pop hits alike, including ripping electric guitars, beat-box drumming and an impressive bass guitar by a man who makes Barry White sound like a falsetto.
Naturally 7 doesn’t call themselves a cappella but rather a “vocal play” group, and their talent was evident in an opening act that flew by in 45 minutes of pure, unadulterated joy.
Bublé finished his set off with The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” which seamlessly transitioned into Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love.”
He encored with more showmanship and stagecraft. The only issue — aside from EnergySolution Arena’s typically egregious acoustics — was that Bublés silkly smooth voice added a sense of sameness to each song that, by the end of the show, created a cumulative effect of feeling as if you’ve heard the same song 16 times.
Despite that bit of tonal monotony, t the crowd danced and sang along, and even though he isn’t Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé knows how to put on one heck of a show.