TO watch Jamie Cullum live is like watching a mini version of Mick Jagger on steroids. Jumpin’ Jamie Cullum.
Although approaching his 40s, Cullum remains a ball of relentless energy, seemingly powered within by an armada of Duracell batteries. He is happy to stand on his piano and sing, then jump off like a cat, walk through the audience singing, play the drums, improvise – and of course bang out music to die for. A sultry voice that drives many watchers to wicked carnal thoughts. Sexy.
It is an unforgettable, upbeat experience as those fortunate enough to purchase tickets for a special night at the 606 Club on Lots Road, Chelsea discovered to their delight.
Cullum’s appearance was part of the 606’s 30th anniversary celebrations at Lots Road. It is a club that confirmed Cullum’s love of jazz as a 17 and 18 year old – he describes descending the club’s dark stairs for the first time as akin to entering a ‘womb of music’ – and he has never forgotten the club’s part (and that of owner Steve Rubie) in his rise to stardom.
Rubie, in attendance, blushed as Cullum sang his praises, stating what all regulars know – that the proprietor runs the club with ‘grace, good humour and excellence’.
With wife Sophie Dahl watching on as well as brother Ben (a key component in his successful career), Cullum launched into a set that thrilled throughout. While What A Difference A Day Makes was served up as a pared back hors d’ouevre, he went through a gear or six as he then launched into the up tempo Don’t You Know.
Rory Simmons delighted all with his trumpeting while superlative vocals were provided by Aisha Stuart and Shanna Goodhead. Both fresh from singing for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at their wedding (Stand By Me) at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Indeed, earlier that day, they had been performing for Prince Charles at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace as part of his official 70th birthday celebrations. Singing sensations with a great future ahead of them.
It did not take long for the energetic Cullum to get up off his feet as a delicious gospel version of Work Of Art was delivered. He followed this with Pointless Nostalgic, a song he once got to a point with in his life when he could not hear it without wincing. Only recently has he reignited his love for it.
Audience participation was enthusiastically encouraged in Next Year Baby, despite the fact that Sophie Dahl usually frowns upon such antics. Simmons and Tom Richards provided blistering support on trumpet and saxophone respectively. As did Loz Garratt on double bass. Simmons and Richards were equally happy playing guitar and keyboards. Multi-tasking par excellence.
A beautiful song, Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down, then followed – written for his wife. This was followed by a marvellous version of Don’t Stop The Music where Cullum literally poured his heart and soul into the song. ‘Please don’t stop the music,’ he crooned. No one objected.
For Hard Times (Ray Charles), the band was joined on stage by guitarist Tom Varrall. Magic ensued.
With the gospel influenced Mankind enhanced by the playing of a sitar, there were further treats galore. Cullum jumping off his piano on When I Get Famous and then joining Brad Webb on drums for You And Me Are Gone – a ‘break up song’.
With High & Dry providing a pulsating finale, a night of Cullum was brought to an end.
Everyone was left exhausted by what they had seen. Everyone left feeling somewhat elated. A master musician – and a thoroughly decent one at that – who is at the top of his game. Mini Jagger. More, more, more. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction? I Can’t Get Enough.