Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Jazz man's mosh pit antics delight ladies

JAMIE CULLUM has a jazz soul and a rock ‘n’ roll heart — it’s a potent combination! He gave us

JAMIE CULLUM has a jazz soul and a rock ‘n’ roll heart — it’s a potent combination! He gave us both on Thursday at the Henley Festival.

Jamie is a star, no doubt about that, not just because he has a great voice, plays a mean piano and writes a good song, it’s also because the world loves him — especially the women.

And they weren’t slow in letting him know it when he played his knockout set. He knows how to work that — no great expressions of ego but he knows he’s the centre of attention.

It’s hard to believe that he’s been around for as long as he has, he still looks like the English Literature undergraduate he was when learning his craft as a pianist and singer 13 years ago * all floppy hair, smooth cheeks, soulful eyes and springy athletic body.

But who cares, he’s terrific! Why do the ladies like him? I’m guessing, but probably they like the eyes and the voice which is a powerful instrument. He also has the humility he started with, but mostly it will be because of what’s between his ears that fuels such a phenomenal talent.

Mind you he took his life in his hands on Thursday when he jumped from the stage into the crowd for a second time. By then it had become a mosh pit in front of the stage and first his sax player had to jump to his aid, and then the festival’s artistic director Stewart Collins lent a hand to haul him back up. Most of the women wanted to put him in their handbag and take him home where he could give them a personal singing-to later.

That was the mood of the crowd, they’d had a drink and wanted a knees-up and Jamie was willing to oblige for quite a lot of his set. But, popular as the set was, it wasn’t populist.

This man can write, play and sing a good song. He and his tight, stripped-down band, ranged from rock to jazz and back again with a stutter in the middle when he went a bit experimental with voice and microphone effects. The first and last thirds, though, saw some of his piano improvisations getting close to Oscar Peterson — others had him one-note pounding like Jerry lee Lewis * and he stood on his instrument as if to emphasis the point.

Jamie announced three quarters of the way through; ”This is officially a great gig!” and he was right. By the end he was working the crowd like Springsteen. Of course there was an encore, and it took some nerve, but he gave us Hendrix’s The Wind Cries Mary.

Only the great can take on the great and make it their own. He managed it. He promised to come back next year: festival policy may have something to say about that but there won’t be any complaints if he does.

Mike Rowbottom

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