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Concert Reviews:
Michael Buble makes a welcome, and emotional, return at Little Caesars

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2019

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DETROIT -- "It's great to be here" was more than just a pro forma salutation from Michael Buble on Friday night, March 1, at Little Caesars Arena.

The Canadian-born singer is in the midst of his first world tour in four years, having stepped back from his career to tend to his now five-year-old son Noah's battle with liver cancer. "I've been gone a long time," Buble said early during the slickly executed hour-and-50-minute show, the final stop of the tour's first leg "To be able to come back and do this for you, it's the greatest therapy."

But, as is Buble's wont, there was plenty of light to go with the heavy; Before long he was pointing to his orchestra, 38 members strong (including 16 locally hired string players) and musing about how much money Ed Sheeran, a one-man act, must make on his tour. Buble also spoke about being "contractually obligated" to invoke Little Caesar's "pizza pizza" ad hook -- spot on, by the way -- after every song, though he kept it to a random handful of mentions throughout the show.

What didn't diminish at all during Buble's time away was his onstage acumen, with as much entertainment-per-second as any pop spectacle also on the road. Sporting tailored suit, light beard and 1,000-watt smile, Buble cut a contemporary Rat Pack figure at Little Caesars, blending a repertoire that blended Great American Songbook favorites -- the opening "Feeling Good," "My Funny Valentine," "Sway," "(Up A) Lazy River," "Just a Gigolo"/"Ain't Got Nobody" and more -- with his own favorites such as "Home" and "Everything," as well as couple tracks from his 2018 album "Love." He apologized for the lack of pyrotechnics, confetti and bubbles (the latter voted as "a safety risk," he said), but the handsome, five-tier staging, with massive video screens, a second stage and a network of ramps to bring Buble closer to the crowd, was more appropriate to the proceedings, anyway.

Buble's glib personality yielded a few good riffs, none better than when he invited a fan to sing one of their "shower songs;" Rather than some popular tune he wound up with an opera soprano named Marlene, who not only had the pipes to pull it off but also provided Buble with a running, good-natured gag for the rest of the night. And after accompanying "Love You Anymore" with the song's video, Buble told the crowd about how he took heat from his wife, Argentinian actress Luisana Lopilato, for cavorting with an actress in the clip.

On the sweet side, meanwhile, Buble dedicated "(Up A) Lazy River" to his grandfather, an early supporter of his musical career, who passed away during December at the age of 93.

The show's emotion peaked was saved until the very end, when Buble, his voice breaking, thanked the audience again for its support and patience while he was away. "I had no idea if I would come back," he said. "You gave my family and opportunity to leave and take care of business the way most families don't get to." And before closing with "Always On My Mind" he promised that, "I'll come back over and over and over and over" -- certainly good news for those giving Buble their "Love" at Little Caesars.

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