‘Tis the season for Michael Bublé. The Canadian balladeer’s 2011 Christmas album sold 12 million copies and is as vital a part of the season as knowing what time the Queen’s speech is on. So it was the perfect time for him to drop down the O2’s chimney and throw a few snowy songs into his usual array of swinging covers and catchy originals.
This evening saw hin joining the O2 Arena’s “21 club” – a list of just six performers who have appeared at the venue that many times. Though he couldn’t be as masterful as Prince, as cool as Drake or as scream-inducing as One Direction, he was certainly as charming as Take That and funnier than Michael McIntyre.
In a crisp suit, backed by a full orchestra who danced and sang as much as they played, he channelled the pre-Beatles era with style and gladhanded the front rows like a politician that people genuinely like. He promised a “drunken karaoke fiesta” and during Louis Prima’s Buona Sera Signorina and Chuck Berry’s Pulp Fiction favourite You Never Can Tell, it definitely felt that way.
He could have approached the show with a new seriousness given recent personal experiences. Between late 2016 and mid-2018 he was away from the stage helping his eldest son through liver cancer. He touched on the subject without specifics during a speech that concluded: “You better live in the moment ‘cause that’s what we’ve got.” His sweet piano ballad, Forever Now, was clearly about the boy.
But he also found space to describe his wonder at the TV show Naked Attraction, sing Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You with a young fan and turn My Funny Valentine into a vast Bond theme. This is his time, and he revelled in being centre stage again.