Overture – All at Sea
Just One of Those Things
Get Your Way
If I Ruled the World
What a Difference a Day Made
Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down
You and Me Are Gone
Blame it on My Youth
Don’t Stop the Music
Land of Begin Again
Jamie Cullum (songwriter, pianist, vocalist)
Jamie Cullum band [Tom Richards saxophone, keyboards, guitar, clarinet, vocals, arranger, music director; Rory Simmons (trumpet & guitar); Chris Hill (double bass, electric bass & vocals) and Bard Webb (drums & vocals)
Martin Taylor (guitar)
Reviewed by: Nick Breckenfield
Reviewed: 26 August, 2010
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London
Making his humble Proms debut (all credit to his closing remarks urging the audience to keep its support for the institution strong), Jamie Cullum brought his trademark energy to Kensington Gore for a well-timed 90 minutes of jazz standards and self-penned hits. While he admitted that he now – having turned 31 a fortnight ago – he has to sing his early hit “Twentysomething” for those who are still in their 20s, he still revels in nimble movement across the stage, including an early leap on top of the piano, and a final leap to join the Prommers in his praise of the Heritage Orchestra and the members of his four-piece ensemble, including main arranger Tom Richards.
Despite his avowed inability to stick to a set list (which he had adhered to, limpet-like, for the first six numbers), we got the printed programme almost complete, with only the dropping of “You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You”, some re-ordering and the addition of “Don’t Stop the Music” and “Land of Begin Again”, as well as the unveiling as the still-centre of the set, his duet of “Blame it on My Youth” with fabulous guitarist Martin Taylor.
Cullum is an all-rounder: he can reinvent the standards – not least the ten-piece rhythmic onslaught, including sousaphone, for Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” – settle into some fabulous jazz-keyboard-playing and become the Young Turk, and swap between all of them, with ease. His enthusiasm is infectious. In addition to his quartet, Cullum was backed by the Heritage Orchestra (strange to hear a band of 40 strings, placed in front of you, only through loudspeakers!), with young, suited, left-handed conductor Jules Buckley turning 360° to keep in touch with all the players. Only the opening dripping-water effect from the pair of percussionists at the back of the stage didn’t work.
There was plenty of audience participation, usually the encouragement of clapping in rhythm – “Twentysomething” and as he slipped seamlessly into an extended riff on “I am Fine”. But Cullum’s not afraid to segue from frenetic – “Don’t Stop the Music” – to the subtle – “Land of Begin Again”, with which the set proper ended, after which he came back for a trio of encores. He also brought the evening to an end with the ballad he wrote for Clint Eastwood’s film “Gran Torino”, sending 5,000 out into the wet August night thoroughly sated.