Michael Bublé’s 11-city Canadian tour came to its close Saturday night, Oct. 22, at Moncton’s Avenir Centre and, without a doubt, his show was an absolute knockout.
At times the 100-minute concert seemed more a religious experience to the capacity crowd that jammed into Moncton's main sportsplex to see the "Christmas guy" with the matinee looks and a songbook of hits that speaks to sweet inspirations and romantic ideals.
To wit, to my right, four middle-aged women dressed to the nines wearing sparkly halos and brandishing a bristle board sign that read 'Michael's PEI Angels'. It was held high for the singer to see as he paced the walkway that fed out from the oversized stage and into the audience. He didn’t miss the ladies’ message either– and, on numerous occasions, he would crouch to glad-hand his fans. He would also sign autographs and exchange words, in particular with an adoring fan that resulted in his audience collectively singing Happy Birthday to this woman whose night would be forever burnished in her mind.
Michael Bublé is more than a pop singer mining a treasure trove of songs for swinging lovers and ballads to assuage broken hearts. He ministers to his congregation with the charm and ease of a populist politician, using the props that old-time midway barkers used to sell bottled potions, and this combination has audiences spellbound in concert halls across the world.
He is quite extraordinary and, on a good night, his voice is as pure and sweet as nectar. It can salve the soul, elicit coos and romance the hearts of women who in an earlier day perhaps read romance novels and listened to records by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis, and Bobby Darin.
To say these things about the Canadian singer is not to disparage him. On the contrary. He is a rarity in today's music scene where sexual ambiguity, strident advocacy, and victimization have become common currency to communicate with increasingly fractionalized audiences.
This balkanization of ideas and beliefs prevalent in politics and social media is a rising tide that Michael Bublé wants to temper with goodwill, grace and charm. He is a man on a mission to subvert callousness, idiocy and malevolence with peace, love and understanding. It might sound trite, but he delivers his message with panache.
His message is simple. In Moncton, as I'm sure he has said as much in other halls in other cities in other countries, he spoke to his flock, telling them that we're all in this together, like the Jesse Colin Young song goes.
He speaks gently, telling us all in the here and now there are no divisions. Rich or poor, of colour or otherwise, whatever our sexual persuasion, we are together as one enjoying a night out in harmony. His message to his disciples bids us to embrace cohesion and take it into the world. An army of light bearers in a society growing ever darker.
It's a simple message and it carries on the words espoused by biblical heroes and John Lennon. It's the message Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela wanted the world to hear. And here we have this Canadian singer quietly selling his message of unity to rapt audiences in every corner of the world.
Bublé’s persuasive and surprisingly intimate approach in a large hall goes beyond words and music, however. Moncton, like Halifax and Hamilton, is a medium-sized market so one would expect corners to be cut in the show’s production but this wasn’t the case. According to one backstage hand, the Bublé express had the largest load-in of any show seen at the venue. ‘Bigger than U2’ I was assured. In total, again from the backstage hand, there were 18 trucks and it took 140 riggers to put the oversized stage, overhead lights, and suspended stage-wing screens in place.
This wasn’t a no-frills show. No. It was luxurious, with a bandstand that must have held 30 brass and string players, each behind a bandstand, plus a grand piano and choreographed backup singers.
An evening with Michael Bublé is far more than a sing-along for lovers and dreamers.
His showmanship, comedic sense and easy banter take the concert experience to evangelical heights.
He's the wedding singer, the 'Christmas guy', the soda pop salesman, but he is also a very-Canadian global superstar and this audience on Saturday night in a Moncton sportsplex had waited for three years for the plague to dissipate and their man to finally arrive and bless them in his very professional manner.
They laughed, sang together, took selfies, and some even touched his hand-but mostly they were there because they love who he is and how his songs affect them. And that in a world of unforgiveness is what had the audience Saturday night in Moncton swaying to the music and singing along as one. It was an extraordinary performance from an extraordinarily ordinary man who loves his family, his country and his sports teams.
Bublé is far more than a voice and his audiences adore him for all these reasons.
He is a romantic notion in a world that seems to be as dark as any Cormac McCarthy novel.