Don Messerli’s Blog |

An exercise in self-indulgence.

“Jamie Cullum Plays Real Music”

Tuesday May 9, 2006

The title of this post isn’t an original Don Messerli quote; but I agree wholeheartedly. Actually it is something that Raul Midon said last night at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale as he was opening for Jamie. Jamie Cullum plays REAL music. Something I love about him. Something I don’t see in many performers these days.

I’m not usually wowed by opening acts. Fiona Apple opening for Counting Crows in Tampa several years back was nice. I was so impressed by Ellis Paul opening for Dar Williams (again in Tampa) that I became a fan of his, have bought all of his albums, and have since gotten tired of Dar. Raul Midon wowed me!

This guy has to be heard. I can try to describe him; but will probably fail miserably. Jump on over to and you can list to all of the tracks on his latest album. He reminds me a bit of Stevie Wonder and a bit of Jeffrey Gaines. He attacks a guiter like Jamie Cullum attacks a piano; but at least he didn’t stomp on it. He does this trumpet thing by blowing air through his lips. If you close your eyes, you’d swear he was playing one. After the show, I bought Raul’s EP and his latest album. I’ll post some more after I’ve had some listening time.

For raw musical talent and energy, I will boldly state that this is the best concert I have ever been to. Yes, I’ve seen Peter Gabriel four times, Genesis, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, and even Joe Jackson in concert. Yes, they are all very talented musicians. The production value on the Gabriel, Genesis, and Phil Collins concerts were among the best ever. Joe Jackson has raw musical talent in excess; BUT none of them engaged the audience as well as Jamie Cullum. He was amazing! By the time the concert was over, everybody in the place was physically drained. Just watching this guy makes you tired. The only one with any energy left was Jamie himself; and that wasn’t from lack of trying. He was all over the stage. All over the poor piano. At one point it looked like he wanted to do a backflip off of a pedestal at the front of the stage. He wisely decided against it because there wasn’t enough room behind him. This was a very small venue with a very small stage. Good thing he decided against it. Wouldn’t be good if this were the first AND last date on his American tour. He played piano, guitar, a conga drum, and some kind of digital scratch thing. He even reached in and played the piano strings like a bass, then like a harp. His small band included a bassist, a drummer, and a guy who played saxaphone, chimes, keyboard, and anything else that made noise. These were versatile jazz musicians. If you’ve ever seen live jazz, you know what I’m talking about. It doesn’t take a big band, large amps and a bunch of electronics to sound good.

Improvisation ran rampant at this concert. Sure, Jamie could sound “just like the album” if he wanted; but why do that. That’s not jazz. He can turn a 4 minutes song into a 15 minute experience. He can turn a small piano riff into a jazz piano lesson. I could say that this was a once in a lifetime experience. But, if I can help it, it won’t be. I plan on seeing Jamie again as soon as I possibly can. Plus, Regine was in Key West on business and missed the concert. I don’t think the t-shirt I bought her will cut it. I’m looking at Georgia or Las Vegas for my second helping. Of course, some of you know what happened the last time Regine and I were in Vegas.