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Concert Reviews:
Baby on board makes Michael Buble even more buoyant at The Palace

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

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AUBURN HILLS -- With a three-week-old son back at home, Michael Buble now views playing concerts as the greatest two-hour vacation I'll ever have."

And he certainly passed the joy on to his fans Tuesday night, Sept. 17, at The Palace.

For just under two hours the baby-faxed Canadian crooner delivered a buoyant and enormously entertaining respite that had one foot in the yesteryear of the Great American Songbook and the other in confetti-spewing contemporary pop. Think of him, tuxedo and all, as a meeting of Frank Sinatra and "Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers, combining earnest balladry with a bit of glib and good-natured, harmless smarm -- including some jabs at Justin Bieber and a few winking sexual entendres that likely flew over the heads of most of the youths who came to Tuesday's show.

And for all the obvious choreography involved in the 24-songs show, the tuxedoed Buble was loose enough for some improvisation, too. Spotting a sign from 12-year-old fan Lena asking him to sing "Happy Birthday" to her, he brought her to the stage and put an arm around her shoulder as he led the Palace crowd in a serenade. Later on he honored a shouted request for Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," bringing three more youths onstage to sing and sway with him.

Then, declaring "karaoke night," he led the audience through a bit of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," obviously to whip everybody up with the lyric's reference to the non-existent South Detroit. (Buble also curried more favor by welcoming Detroit Piston Andre Drummond, who was seated in the stage left grandstand, and by asking fans from Ontario, "Don't you wish you had Detroit's home (hockey) team?")

Those were nice asides in a set that was certainly entertaining in its own right, mixing standards and originals with a healthy sampling from Buble's latest album, "To Be Loved." Opening with a literally fiery version of Detroiter Little Willie John's "Fever," Buble paid homage to Sinatra early with renditions of "You Make Me Feel So Young" and "Come Dance With Me," as well as Sinatra-ized treatments of Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" and Van Morrison's "Moondance" -- all deftly played by a 13-piece big band whose drummer, Marion Felder, is a Detroit native.

Buble sat down for a short, mid-show ballad set accompanied by an eight-piece string section, finishing with his hit "Home" before walking out to a second stage at the rear of the Palace floor as he sang Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." He was joined there by a capella opening act Naturally 7 for a couple of Motown favorites -- Smokey Robinson's "Who's Lovin' You" and the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," as well as the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" and the Beatles' "All You Need is Love." The latter brought him back to the main stage for a spirited romp through Arthur Alexander's "Burning Love" and Buble's own "Beautiful Day," as well as an encore trio of Julie London's "Cry Me a River," the Drifters' "Save the Last Dance For Me" and a heart-wringing treatment of Leon Russell's "A Song For You" that he dedicated to his fans.

All in all, not a bad break from diaper duty.

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