With his car salesman’s suit, easy patter and Rat Pack-era covers, you’d expect to find Michael Bublé entertaining guests at a wedding or aboard a cruise ship. However, here he is, 10 albums under his belt, packing out his umpteenth arena: the first 14 such dates on this UK and Ireland tour.
Quite what elevated the 43-year-old Canadian above thousands other such singers is a moot point. Perhaps the winning formula lies in songs that pack nostalgic and feelgood appeal, are delivered in honeyed, note-perfect vocals and come with the sort boyish good looks that lead one woman in the front row to hold up a huge heart sign reading: “Hug me.” Bublé doesn’t oblige, but signs it for her so she can put it down, “so the fella behind won’t think you’re an asshole for blocking his view”.
Such cheeky, sometimes more self-deprecating humour, and a sumptuous 34-piece orchestra, also see him through a two-hour show that careers from Rodgers and Hart to Chuck Berry. At one point, the lighting recreates the intimacy the jazz clubs he sang in aged 16. Lately, Bublé’s young son Noah’s cancer diagnosis – which took the singer away from music while the boy, now five, was recovering – has added an emotional edge to the mix. Bublé talks movingly about the recent death the grandfather who introduced him to this music, and his self-penned new songs are rich in love and family. After Forever Now, a humbling address from a parent to a child, he is tearful, until he recovers his composure to wisecrack: “Are there any therapists out there?”