Jamie Cullum showcases versatility (and a Rihanna cover) at the Keswick Theater - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Jamie Cullum | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Jazz-pop icon Jamie Cullum kicked off his first US tour in years this past Thursday, and gave a rousing display of musicianship merged with impeccable and unique stage presence. The 34-year old singer-songwriter played a packed Keswick crowd, flipping back and forth between traditional modal swing and the infectious jazz-pop crossover with which he became famous.

Cullum supported himself largely on keyboards of various types, including a grand piano and a synthesizer, but also supported himself on snare drum quite frequently. Starting off the set was a rendition of the tight and syncopated “Same Things,” the lead track off Cullum’s 2013 album Momentum. “Get Your Way” was also a definite highlight, featuring excellent piano playing by Cullum, complete with dancing on the lid of the grand piano.

A personal favorite of mine was his version of the crooner “What A Difference A Day Makes,” initially popularized by Dinah Washington. Cullum’s rendition of the piano-centric ballad was augmented by his killer sense of humor; a raving fan screamed an impassioned “I love you!” during the middle of the song, and in response, Cullum stopped and replied “I love you too, but judging from your voice you seem to be committed, so I will just take this time to reminisce on what could have been,” and finished the song as wonderfully as he started it. Cullum’s set continued in a similar manner, transitioning between jazz and pop, even featuring his danceable cover of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music.” By the end of the set, the crowd was on their feet, and left the Keswick happy and wholeheartedly impressed.

Joining Cullum was Philly singer Ali Wadsworth, backed by local rock outfit Satellite Hearts; they stunned early arrivers with a classic rock ’n roll sound with vocals almost echoing Janis Joplin.

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