Review: Is it time for Michael Buble to loosen up a little?

Michael Buble

Allianz Stadium,  October 5

★★★½

Michael Buble loves us. At the short-notice and not particularly warranted Closing Show Celebration at Sydney Football Stadium he tells us several times how much he loves Australia, how it feels like home to him, how he loves the humour and confidence of the Aussie people. He loves us dearly. No, he really, really does, honest. OK, so he mentions cricket when reeling off the hosting accomplishments of the stadium, but we’ll forgive him.

This is in a gushing spiel about how honoured he is to be the act for the joint’s final curtain, despite stating in a press conference earlier this week he’d never heard of it before. But points for effort.

Buble’s finger-clickin’, easy-listening blend of old standards and jaunty jazz-pop isn’t for everyone but there’s no denying he meets the brief, even if he doesn’t push boundaries.

Friday night’s memorial for the stadium, before its controversial three-year closure and $730 million revamp, was an odd construct for a venue not really synonymous with gigs.

But despite the 33,000 attendees having to endure the freezing deluge – ironic that one of the pro arguments for bulldozing the stadium is that it doesn’t offer protection from the elements – spirits were high.

After a serviceable Guy Sebastian support set, the rain miraculously stopped and Buble stepped out bringing the Vegas lounge sparkle, opening with an almost instructional Feeling Good and perky Haven’t Met You Yet.

He has a natural playfulness about him, interacting regularly with the poncho-laden audience who he says look like “millions of condoms” and commandeering iPhones for up-close selfies.

The setlist is a carefully curated, well-paced mix of tempos. The 16-piece band is tight and the livelier numbers are often electric: the Latin spin of Sway, the jive of Just a Gigolo and a belter of I’ve Got the World on a String.

There are times when his soaring vocals absolutely knock it out of the park. But too often the croon-by-numbers shtick is passive and clinical.

It would be great to see Buble push himself and take on some of those Aussie characteristics he says he admires, loosen that tie a little and swap the polish for the raw power he only permits glimpses of.

For execution, it’s an excellent gig. But rather like the revamping of the SFS site, you have to ask, did we really need it?

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