Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A New Jamie?

I found this review by Lauren Heno of Jamie's recent show in Portsmouth to be an excellent summation of all the press reviews I have read for the Momentum tour thus far. She writes:

Jamie Cullum pulled off a mesmerising performance as part of his ‘Momentum' Tour proving he truly is a master of many musical talents.

Whilst this isn't news to exisiting fans, it is becoming evident that people are noticing a change and it got me thinking. Lauren continues:

After being hailed as one of the best young Jazz musicians around, it was clear that improvisation was a love of his throughout the set. His tour introduced a new Jamie, one that loves pop/rock music, jumping off pianos, dancing with fans and making people laugh. His stage presence and music just can't be labelled.
Jamie Cullum - Oct 2013
© All Things Cullum

Again, for those who have been around for some time, this is no surprise. It still sounds like the Jamie we know and love. And yes, it remains impossible to pigeonhole Jamie. It leads me to wonder what exactly it is reviewers and fans are noticing that is different? Are we really looking at a new Jamie? Marriage and children change you, for sure, and Jamie is very settled with a beautiful family now. Is that it?

Throughout the concert Jamie interacted in a way with the audience that is rarely seen in the music industry. He replied to fans calling out, he danced with them in the crowd, got them to sing, got them off their chairs to dance, and even got them all to jump.  Not only could he get the audience involved and be part of the production, but he also had the ability to stun them into silence.
It is wonderful that there are still people getting that Jamie is a totally unique artist. What makes him so?  I would venture to try and explain it this way. 
Jamie is first and foremost a bonafide music fan himself, possessing an exceptional connection not only to jazz but all genres. If you are a regular listener to his weekly BBC Radio 2 show, you don't need me to convince you of this. The show has given Jamie a worldwide platform to not only share his passion for music but to be a musical educator, and an advocate of great artists, old and new.  He has got to work with many of the world's musical greats which must be so inspiring.
Add to that his own incredible musicianship as a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Like a fine wine that improves with maturity, so Jamie's calibre only seems to increase. He has honed his craft for more than a decade and has certainly paid his dues on the gigging circuit. He works super hard. I had the privilege of witnessing this close up earlier in the year. A day in the life of Jamie Cullum is hectic to say the least, with people wanting something from him at every turn, but he was an absolute gentleman with everyone he came in contact with and my already high respect for him both professionally and personally deepened considerably.
Jamie is a fearless innovator, a pioneer, not afraid to think outside the box and experiment with new ideas. I always think of Jamie as a modern-day Hendrix. Though he doesn't burn pianos on stage (yet anyway!).  I'm sure that Jamie and Jimi would have been the best of friends. What an incredible collaboration that could have been. 
Then, excuse the cliche but Jamie is a genuinely nice guy and despite all the success has thankfully (and unusually for a 'celebrity') kept his feet firmly on terrafirma. Maybe that is key to his appeal then. People can relate to him on many different levels, he isn't unapproachable or egotisical. He understands the importance of connecting with his fans, a fact this reviewer clearly picked up on. Is that what keeps drawing us to his shows? 
Jamie Cullum is a gifted performer, one who continues to inspire in a way that is inexplicable. His magic touches young and old from all cultures around the globe. A worthy ambassador for jazz indeed.
Fundamentally, it doesn't seem possible to put a finger on just why Jamie is so much loved. For me, he is the same Jamie that blew me away the very first time I saw him live back in 2003, but I still find every new gig leaves me even more amazed. One thing I am sure about is that it's very exciting to be one of his fans and be able to witness his growth as an artist who I am sure will continue entertaining us for many years to come. Jamie Cullum has surely earned his place in future history books as one of the most influential UK artists of our time, a real trail blazer in the world of music. 

The final word goes to Jamie who tweeted the following a couple of days ago:

Read the complete review by Lauren here

I would love to know your thoughts on this subject. Please comment below, tweet me or drop me an email!


  1. My first Cullum gig was in 2005 . Back then Jamie already was entertaining, chatting with the audience, in a friendly, funny , down-to-earh way. I remember him addressing people in the back, or should I say, small people in the back to feel free to come closer towards the stage, because they could see much more there. "I know the feeling"...made us all laugh., no, he always was the master of his craft but interactive with his fans.
    The change I see over the years are the songs on the cd´s.....or better the proportion jazzy tunes to self-made more pop songs. Me coming originally from the jazz scene am glad that his concerts still have got this jazy influence, even in his pop songs, because of jazzy solos, variations. That draws my attention. His Live performances outmatch his CD´s (although perfectly recorded, maybe ...can´t show the genius, Jamie is, on the whole. )
    The question , if his personal life, leaves its mark in his music.....hard to tell, actually. Maybe I can answer that one in 20 years, looking back.
    Me, a german, visiting the UK and even asked by some Englishmen about my concert , didn´t know who Jamie Cullum was. Which I couldn´t understand nor believe. He is on a further step to "getting famous" ;-) , but then , he´s got so much more time ahead of him, right?
    These are my thoughts , please forgive my poor English.

    1. Thanks for your insight Andrea!
      I agree with you that he has always been like this. And I think he always will be.

  2. I met him before one of his shows. It was my first time seeing him and he was really down to earth. Such a lovely gentleman- he even played our requests :-) The magic momemt was when we were called to be at the front of the stage and everyone was bouncing along to mixtape. His final song, Gran Torino was beautiful. I am honoured to not only have met him but to have been that the stage and experience his magic. He'll be arpund for a long time yet and i will be seeing him again. I may never get to meet him again but i had opportunities many fans will never get. He doesn't need to be any more famous than he is and i hope that i will still be a fan many years down the line :-)

    1. That's awesome, so glad to hear your first show turned out to be so memorable! Thanks for sharing your experience.