Review: Michael Buble at Conseco Fieldhouse

Notes on my first encounter with the pop singer

July 1, 2010
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Early in Michael Buble’s June 29 show at Conseco Fieldhouse, when the popular singer was mangling “Mack the Knife” and offering a reading of “All of Me” that seemed like he had memorized the lyrics phonetically,  I kept flashing back to times I’ve heard such Great American Songbook tunes done more effectively.

No, I’m not talking about performances by Frank Sinatra or Barbara Cook or Mel Torme. I’m not even thinking of Harry Connick.

I’m thinking of the half dozen acts I’ve seen take the stage at both iterations of The Cabaret (now housed at the Columbia Club). I’m thinking of Tony DeSare, who has performed as a guest with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and charmingly took no prisoners. I’m recalling vocalist Carol Harris being pulled up from the audience at The Jazz Kitchen to sing “Our Love is Here to Stay” during Stacie Sandoval’s June 23 set. And of Sandoval’s own reading of “The Nearness of You” during that same show.

And I’m thinking of the teens that performed at Michael Feinstein’s Great American Songbook competition.

I could go on. There are plenty more examples.

Sure, Buble knows how to put on a show. And he knows how to invigorate his fan base. But early on, this Buble novice began to wonder if the singer’s love for the adoration of the crowd outweighed his love for the music.

Sure, he brought a stage full of fine musicians with him (along with screens that sometimes seemed to be playing alien biology videos), but there was no rhyme or reason to his song selection—and no connection between the often-blue patter and the tunes themselves. Ends of lines faded out, key elements were garbled, and dramatic lighting couldn’t mask a sense of get-it-over-with, not in the show itself but in individual songs.

His desire for effect over interpretation was clear when he told an anecdote about knowing what he wanted to do with his life after seeing the parade float scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” A savvier performer would have used the story to launch a version of "Danke Schoen." Instead, Buble launched into “Twist and Shout,” which you’ve no doubt heard wedding bands do better.

Buble seemed to take more care with his own material, including the hits “Everything” and “Haven’t Met You Yet.” But he was most at home what seemed to be a Vegas lounge section that included “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “How Sweet It Is to be Loved by You” and, inexplicably, “Heartache Tonight.” At least he didn’t do “YMCA.”

The crowd was adoring, but wasn’t quite pulled into the party atmosphere that Buble repeatedly said he hoped to create. The highlight of the show occurred when Buble took a seat and let his band do a solo number. The crowd, to its credit, cheered just as loudly as they did for their Canadian idol.

Your thoughts?


P.S.: I know that many of your reading this blog will have found it while Googling Michael Buble. If this is your first time here, welcome. Please add your comments below.

  • OK
    I can't disagree with most of what is written as I was at the concert with my wife. Despite the truth of you've written, the fans seemed to really enjoy the concert. At the end of the day concerts are about entertainment.

    I on the other hand regret purchasing tickets in section 211. I couldn't understand most of the lyrics and nearly all of Buble's banter. I'll think twice about by the "cheap" seats for a concert at Conseco.

    I would go to another Buble concert as I do enjoy his music and his renditions of the greats.
  • Fun Time
    It was one th best shows I have sceen. He has a ton of character and I felt engaged the whole time. I this jokes were fun and it wasn't what I expected. You said this was your first time hearing him I wonder if what you were expecting was something different. He isn't Frank and I don't think he would be good at it. I thought his show was great and I hope he comes back.
  • Best view on the side!
    My sister and I went to this performance and had a good time in section 4 row 4. I also agree that the song choice was a little off, the beach balls were a little bizarre, and he talked and made jokes more than anything else. I do however feel that he was way more on his game this time in Indy than the last time he was here. In 2008 he appeared drunk, slurring his words and looking like he had not slept in a week! Hopefully this new fiance has straightened him out.
    For anyone interested in seeing a concert at Conseco in the future, I've learned that any seats directly across from stage are going to have difficulty hearing the show from the extremely loud echo and distortion!
  • I wasn't there, but...
    I wasn't at this show, but I heard from family members it was a great time.

    Also, in fairness to the Ferris Bueller's Day Off reference...Ferris did perform both "Danke Schoen" and "Twist and Shout" on the float. :-)
  • Fan of Buble
    I avoided the concert because I was fortunate enough to have seen him in a cabaret setting at the Murat--spectacular! There are some artists that just perform better in a more intimate setting.
  • Loved it
    I took my mom and we both loved it. We had great seats and were entertained. We were not disappointed.
  • he's peaked
    My wife and I are big buble fans, but he's peaked and will self-destruct if he doesn't get back to the music. He definitely belongs exclusively in the theater venue which is where we originally saw him and fell for seeing him live. The last two conseco concerts have been a disappointment and he is clearly becoming more in love with being a star than with being a musician. I also did not appreciate that he talked directly with two young girls in the crowd under 12 and acknowledged the kids in attendence, then almost immediately told those in the crowd who might complain about the "party" atmosphere to F*!% themselves as he flipped the bird.
    My fiance and I were at this concert and it was an amazing show. We had also been to one of his in Chicago back in March and it was wonderful as well. I don't have one bad thing to say about Michael's show. Anyone who went should know that he's a goober and is "real" and isn't going to be fake in front of his fans. I thought he sang his heart out perfectly! You can tell he is doing what he loves most! I hope that anyone who reads this blog let's it go in one ear and out the other.
    Hi, I am from the UK and saw him twice in May, I thought both shows were amazing, he engages with his audience, and had an wonderful vocal range, especially at the very end when he sung "your song" without a microphone. I was halfway back in an arena that seated 14,000 and could hear every word - it was breathtaking, got a ticket for Sheffield again at end of Sept
  • Why SO Negative?
    Even if somebody else may do them better, does it matter?

    I get a strong sense that you would have been very disappointed if you hadn't been able to find fault, which is a shame.

    The man's obviously not your cup of tea but no-one can deny that he is a world class dynamic entertainer.

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