By Mary Ann Odete
Fresh off the release of his latest album, “Interlude,” Jamie Cullum brought that big band sound and spirit to the Beacon Theatre as part of his “Interlude: The Jazz Tour.” Cullum is known for both his jazz filled covers of songs – which range from pop, rap and standards – as well as original compositions. Accompanying him on tour was the soulful Ms. Lisa Fischer, who added another layer and much-needed feminine touch to the evening.
Ms. Lisa Fischer and her band kicked off the evening. Fischer hit all the right notes and her unique stage presence kept the crowd captivated. Her set included covers of The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” With her spectacular vocal range and set of light and relaxed songs, Fischer was definitely the perfect opening act to prepare the crowd for the theatricality that would follow.
True to his dramatic form, Cullum’s entrance was grand. The stage became lightly lit in various colors and Cullum’s voice could be heard from off-stage. The band came out first and then Cullum sauntered onto the stage. Cullum began the night with his song “Interlude,” his latest effort’s title track. There is no denying Cullum’s presence and confidence, strutting between the piano and singing center stage, a veritable peacock of a performer.
The set included covers of Randy Newman’s “Loving You,” Nina Simone’s/ The Animals “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” and his take on Tony Bennett and Billy Evans’ cover of “Make Someone Happy.” Despite the set mostly comprising songs from his new album, Cullum also included some fan favorites such as “Twentysomethings,” “Get Your Way,” and “I’m All Over It.” Cullum, known for his improvisation, also slipped mini-covers of some of today’s popular songs by artists like Beyoncé and Iggy Azalea, which kept the set light and humorous as well as musically and artistically enthralling.
Known as a bit of troublemaker, Cullum urged the audience to take video recordings of the performance, despite this being prohibited by the venue. He also had members of the audience form a sort of pit at the front of the stage by telling them, “If you all came at once, [the security guards] can’t stop you.” At one point he even jumped off the stage and sang to some of the audience members. Cullum’s antics did not stop there, with his constant shoutouts to pump up the audience and him standing on top of the piano.
With Cullum, we see a man who thinks of his life as a film and performs in a grand style reminiscent of this mentality. This isn’t an artist you can easily write off. He sticks with his audience and with you, whether it’s through his excellent covers or his eccentric presence. In the end, the mark of a true artist is how long they stay in your head after the curtain has come down.
Mary Ann Odete is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.