Gig review: Jamie Cullum, Edinburgh

Jamie Cullum: Sublime musicianship. Picture: Gareth Easton
Jamie Cullum: Sublime musicianship. Picture: Gareth Easton
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“I want my living room to look like this,” cooed Jamie Cullum, casting his gaze around the Usher Hall. “Gold trim. And an audience.”

Jamie Cullum - Usher Hall, Edinburgh

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Never let it be said Cullum doesn’t like the eyes of an audience upon him, which he freely admitted himself. “I’m many things but I’m not shy,” he declared.

Yet often, it’s when the boyish 33-year-old pianist, singer and sometime radio presenter cuts loose that his set convinces least. When he burst from his seat and tries to raise the roof during Edge of Something, or strode through the audience during the deliberately ragged blues of Love For Sale, or leapt atop his piano during the intentionally narcissistic When I Get Famous – these were the moments when he seemed most self-consciously show-offy, most determined to recreate the tediously standard language of the everyday pop star.

Yet there was much to admire, not least his often sublime musicianship (captured in extreme and stagey close-up by the two cameras prowling alongside him) and the excellent jazz-rock quartet alongside him. These were displayed to richly trad effect during Just One of Those Things and a hauntingly atmospheric cover of Pure Imagination (the Wonka connection is made via Cullum’s wife Sophie Dahl, Roald’s granddaughter), and to truly inventive degrees by the burst of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball secreted amidst All At Sea, a stunning cover of N.E.R.D.’s Frontin’ for a cappella beatbox and tapped rhythm on his piano lid, and his shuffling groove version of Rihanna’s Don’t Stop the Music.