Shortly after nine Jamie and his four band members strolled on stage and launched straight into the energetic, percussion heavy The Same Thing and its teasing, taunting melody. Within minutes heads were nodding with approval. The second song had only just begun when a silhouette with flailing arms and dramatic movements drew attention to the fact that someone in the upper circle has already left their seat to bust some serious moves in the corridor.
There’s obviously something in the air and, back on the stage, Jamie is crooning with his feet placed firmly on the top of his grand piano. Launching himself from its shiny black surface is also something he evidently enjoys and repeats several times throughout the show. The stage set up is refreshingly without distracting gimmicks. The combination of the smoke seeping out from the corner of the stage, the soft, warm floodlights and the intimacy of the Olympia provided an old school, jazz-bar feel to the evening.
“Goodness me, you’re very attentive,” he chuckles while launching into some honky-tonk piano before Everything You Didn’t Do. “I will meet you in the city, when it’s lit up by the stars,” he sings with effortless grace while hammering out chords on the Yamaha. What becomes clear at this point is that the musicians playing with Cullum are of an equally high standard. They are phenomenal performers in their own right, chopping and changing instruments every few minutes and sometimes playing several at once.
There is no stereotype in this audience, the demographic spreads across the board. Throughout the gig, Cullum keeps a watchful eye on the crowd, and feeds off their response and reaction. He has mastered the ability to entertain, knocking out song after song, moving from genre to genre with ease.
As he tinkles away with the intro of Pure Imagination, the stage lights are dimmed and colour filters switched off. The calming atmosphere and silence spreads through the theatre instantaneously, with only the faint sound of a text message to be heard from the enchanted audience alongside Jamie’s soaring vocals.
Any avid Youtube user will have seen at least one popular cover by Jamie Cullum and it’s definitely an aspect of his live show that is memorable. As he treats the audience to a Suit & Tie/Frontin mashup, Cullum has decided to use his piano as a drum, knocking different nooks of the piano, inside and outside to avail of different sounds. It’s definitely a highlight, as is the ever popular Please Don’t Stop the Music, a song from Rihanna’s repertoire that he has transformed into a sultry, jazz number. Not one to create a barrier between the audience and stage, Cullum decided to sprint around the venue while singing and jumps in some quick photos with delighted audience members.
“This is the place to start a tour, right here!” he laughs. He says he’s delighted to return to the Olympia, a wonderful venue though it’s terrifying to walk the corridors lined with photos of all the incredible artists who have performed there. He knows how to cheekily charm an audience and his energy is infectious.
He chuckles before introducing When I Get Famous stating it’s a fictional story about a boy in school who’s really good at piano but can’t get girls to notice him. Fiction, of course. The audience are eating out of the palms of his hands at this point; he’s got them jumping up and down in unison and singing while he conducts his new choir from stage. During the old favourite Gran Torino, two band members plant themselves in the crowd and play sax and trumpet from there.
It’s just hit eleven o’clock as Jamie is finishing the encore; a stunning performance of If I Ruled the World. A solid two hours of playing and 18 songs later Cullum says the crowd have raised the bar too high for the start of the tour. He leaves the stage, looking a lot sleepier than when he started but with a grin from ear to ear.
This was a gig of first class standard. Aside from a minor technical blip with the microphone at one point, it is difficult to find fault with anything. From a point of musicianship, each band member was impressive in their own right, holding their own against the exuberant man they accompany.
‘Momentum’ just couldn’t fit better as a title; Jamie Cullum is the driving force behind what can only be described as a knockout gig. With a tour like this, he is safely placing himself amongst the best, most innovative, live performers in the business.
Jamie Cullum Photo Gallery
Photos: Sean Smyth