Michael Buble was in fine form Friday night, delivering a top-notch show for more than 11,000 fans at the Consol Energy Center.
Naturally Seven opened the show with a 30-minute set of soul and pop. The a capella group is on its third tour with Mr. Buble and it just keeps getting better. Over the years the group has honed its skills, wowing the audience with deft vocal mimicry and singing skills on songs like "Summer Breeze."
Mr. Buble began his two-and-a-half-hour set with "Fever," a fan favorite he delivers with low swagger and high energy. He immediately connected with his fans, talking about his newborn son, Noah (born Aug. 27), and happily accepting a gift from an audience member, a baby T-shirt with a Penguins logo that got the sports-crazy audience cheering.
The show was fast-paced and included classics "Haven't Met You Yet," "I've Got the World on a String," "Come Dance with Me" and "Moondance." Originals were not left off the bill as everyone sang along with "Everything" and "Home." A new single, "Close Your Eyes," turned out to be the only musical weak link of the night due to a rare blip in the otherwise crystal-clear sound that drew the electric guitar front and center, drowning out the string section and the singer's vocals in one fell swoop.
Mr. Buble quickly recovered from that introducing "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" with the tale of how the Bee Gees agreed to do their smash hit as a duet when he was a relative unknown at age 26, being shopped around by none other than legendary producer David Foster.
Playing a show at Consol was a thrill for Mr. Buble, a die-hard hockey fan who joked that he spoke to fellow Canadian Sidney Crosby before the show and the Kid sent his regards. Later on, he introduced his all-star brass section as "Team Buble," in pre-game ESPN style -- complete with high-definition video headshots and resumes. All joking aside, the 10-piece section was jam-packed with grads from Juilliard, Berklee and The Manhattan School of Music, to name a few. Each introduction brought a show-stopping solo that left wowed the audience.
Mr. Buble is loved by his fans, interacting with them throughout the show. Dozens brought signs with declarations -- full of glitter, lights and bright swaths of color. Many were rewarded for their dedication: Selena, who was serenaded for her 18th birthday; a couple celebrating their 61st anniversary who sang with Mr. Buble; and, during the encore, a school-age girl who wore a T-shirt with a photo of her and the singer from a previous show performed with Mr. Buble a duet of Randy Newman???s ???You???ve Got a Friend in Me??? from ???Toy Story.??? Charming.
He connected with the back of the house (performing from a satellite stage that is all the rage for performers these days), churning out a Motown set while joined by the opening act. They crafted a fun version of the Jacksons' "I Want You Back" that you could easily imagine being sung soulfully on a street corner back in the day.
Mr. Buble concluded the show with a three-song encore, finishing with the great Leon Russell's "A Song for You." Toward the end, he took off his earbuds and quieted the band, singing to the end without amplification and showing the sweet simplicity of song as he sang to the rafters. It's a signature move that never gets old.
At this time in history when Auto-Tune and ProTools pollute popular music like a plague, it is easy to forget how powerful the human voice is. It is nice that Michael Buble and Naturally Seven entertainingly remind us all.
Rosa Colucci: 412-263-1661 or email@example.com. First Published September 21, 2013 8:00 PM