Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

Piano

My next statement in a way feels like I may be saying ‘I’m the number one fan of Emmerdale Farm’, purely because jazz isn’t (yet) ‘mainstream’ but here goes: Jamie Cullum is without doubt my favourite ever musician, artist and entertainer; living or dead. Although Freddie Mercury is a close second. Next favourite would be The Prodigy (Liam Howlett is a genius in my eyes/ears) so I’m nothing if not diverse. And I say entertainer because musician doesn’t adequately cover his abilities, at all.

The Awakening

I first heard Jamie’s music when he appeared on Michael Parkison’s ‘Parkinson’ chat show (Michael is a big fan and invited him on to perform). Here was someone bringing something new to jazz – a freshness I’d never witnessed before. Having always been a jazz fan I found it suddenly, and substantially, re-prioritised. I went straight out and purchased Jamie’s second major album, Twentysomething. This was a mixture of original work, jazz standards and covers of some contemporary music. To this day it remains one of my favourite albums (Twentysomething, All At Sea, Next Year, Baby & Frontin’ in particular). Soon after, I spotted ‘Jamie Cullum – Live At Blenheim Palace’ on DVD and purchased straight away. I was quite simply amazed by his performance, I urge anyone who hasn’t seen that DVD to watch it. After this came Catching Tales, containing some more of my favourites (Photograph, Mind Trick & Oh God), and most recently The Pursuit which features another exceptional DVD with the special edition. Ever since, I’ve been waiting for the day I see him live.

Jamie Cullum: TwentysomethingJamie Cullum: Live at Blenheim Palace
Jamie Cullum: Catching TalesJamie Cullum: The Pursuit

Fate

Fast-forward a few years – a business meeting was arranged in London and I remembered that a Jamie Cullum gig was on (with a little help from Twitter) so checked the date. He was performing on the 29th, it was sold out and my meeting was on the 28th. Damn. But that all soon changed; the meeting was moved to the 29th, 50 extra tickets for the event were announced shortly after and my bank card was out faster than my bank card would be out if a Jamie Cullum gig was on in the same location as I’d be.

The Venue

The gig was at the newly built Under the Bridge club which was commisioned by Roman Abramovich, Chelsea football club owner (who drummer, Brad Webb, tweeted was at the gig), at a reported cost of £20m. It’s located underneath Stamford Bridge, hence the name. First impressions were excellent: contemporary, stylish and intimate. The staff were also fantastic, especially the security guys joking with us whilst queueing. The stage was all set up and I was glad to see his full ensemble including the Rhodes organ. You could tell a lot of time and money had been put into the lighting and audio setup at this venue. Luckily, we got there early enough to get right by the stage and took up position next to the piano to get a good view of the ivories.

Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

Lift-off

Support was provided by Dan Croll, giving a nice gentle, Coldplay-esque, introduction to the main event. Jamie came on at 9 and went straight into So They Say. The crowd were instantly involved and Jamie went on to perform more of his classics, after telling us “start with the hits”, an idea he gleaned from Coldplay/Chris Martin at Glastonbury whilst watching in bed. The brilliant I’m All Over It, Don’t Stop The Music, Twentysomething and All At Sea followed, to name but a few.

The Band

Jamie never uses a set-list. He makes it up as he goes along which, as you can imagine, must be a bit of a nightmare for the rest of the band. I was amazed at how tight they all were and how bassist Chris Hill had to spend half of his time watching Jamie to find out what he’d be playing next. Bands are often overlooked and don’t get the respect they deserve – this band are exceptionally talented and deserve immense kudos. Another great surprise for the evening was that it was a bit of a family affair as Jamie’s brother Ben Cullum, another very talented musician, was there for the evening standing in for Rory Simmons. Ben writes a lot of the music with Jamie and actually took the vocals for These Are The Days, a track he penned. I also understand Jamie’s mother was in the crowd and I spotted Jamie’s wife, Sophie Dahl early on in the evening too.

Full Steam Ahead

It didn’t take long for Jamie to get the audience involved, getting different sections of the crowd singing harmonies and joking and talking between tracks (Swindow FC, Beyonce and Glastonbury being featured topics). At one point, as he often does in gigs, he parted the crowd and took the band into the middle of the room to play Caravan. There was also the trademark standing on the piano. We also got to hear a work-in-progress new track he’d written with Ben – very promising! I don’t think two hours has ever flown by so quickly. Just as I thought the gig was over and the band was heading off stage, Jamie returned to play Gran Torino (the track he wrote for the film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood) and changed the words to incorporate his wife, Sophie, and new daughter, Lyra – something quite, quite special..

Photos

Not great quality as taken from my iPhone but I’ve tried to process them as best as possible – I don’t think I could have got much closer though without sitting next to Jamie!:

Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

Videos

Again, not great quality, as taken from my iPhone and none of these are complete tracks as it’s hard to enjoy the concert with a phone infront of your face:

Finding the Words

Having seen the DVDs my expectations were amazingly high, more so than any gig/performance I’ve been to before. I can happily say my expectations were surpassed – quite literally the most amazing performance I’ve ever experienced. His passion for the music flows through everyone, the crowd is electric; the closest thing I can compare it to is some of the club nights I’ve experienced in Ibiza with euphoric trance music bringing a crowd of people into a single entity. Instead of watching a performance, you are part of a performance. If you closed your eyes you could have been listening to a studio recording, they were that good – although Jamie is intentionally very much a first take recording artist as can be heard on The Pursuit album. With couples embraced and grown men crying by the end of the gig, you know you’ve witnessed something special, something unforgettable.

The Future

I can’t wait for the next gig I’m lucky enough to go to, whenever it may be. Hopefully it’ll be at at a similarly fantastic and intimate venue – Ronnie Scott’s being high on my list. I’ll also be lucky enough to meet Jamie at some point in the future as he released a limited edition ‘Super Deluxe’ edition of The Pursuit album which features a meet and greet pass for any future gig. I hope this guy gets the success he deserves but at the same time I hope he doesn’t become too ‘mainstream’ as I think that’s a lot of the appeal.

Posted in General, Random | Tagged | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Jamie Cullum @ Under the Bridge

  1. Michelle says:

    Great review :) Thanks for posting!

  2. Nate says:

    Thanks for a great review…
    It’s so nice to see that he could live up to the hype live! There’s nothing more disappointing than being let down by an artist, right?

    I’m new in the blog world… love your blog…and what you consider yourself… human, dad, geek lol! good stuff..I’ll be back man!

  3. MishterTea says:

    Hey guys, cheers for the comments!

    @Nate Yeah, he had quite some expectations to live up to! Magical, simply magical. I checked out your website – loving the jazz fusion!

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