Cheeky, cheerful classic Cullum

Fans of British jazzman Jamie Cullum know enough to expect earthy, infectious grooves and high-octane jives from him.

Even so, the livewire with the sandpapered voice outdid himself on Thursday evening, delivering a firecracker of a performance as well as rib-tickling asides on Britain's dire weather, how warm Singaporeans are and how tight his washer-shrunk jeans were.

The last had the audience yelling "Take it off!"

Diminuitive Cullum demurred, saying it would be "highly unsexy" to see him prising his pants off "with a knife".

He had burst onto the stage with The Same Thing, from his latest album Momentum, and went on for more than 18 songs - some rolled into medleys - in just over 90 minutes. When this human jukebox said firmly that his whoa-a-a croon would be the night's final song, his sated listeners abided by that.

For much of the evening, he belted his heart out while making like a kid let loose in a toy shop, now walloping the skins so hard, his drumstick flew off, and then standing atop and leaping off the piano whenever he was not thumping its body rhythmically or manipulating its strings.

"Don't worry, we're insured," he quipped when his string-twanging yielded disconcerting wibble- wobbles.

He delighted fans with his hits TwentySomething, Everything You Didn't Do and Save Your Soul, but left out his most recognisable one, Everlasting Love.

But while he is a consummate composer, he was not above channelling other stars, beginning with his Elton John-like vibe on the honky-tonk Get Your Way. Then he recalled The Beatles on his bouncy I'm All Over It, before he did a soulful doff to Paul McCartney on The Beatles' Blackbird and then yelped like the late Michael Jackson on Love For Sale.

Towards the close, he launched into his favourite cover, Rihanna's Don't Stop The Music, grinding the grooves down for all they were worth as the audience became a standing, swaying and clapping sea of humanity.

But it was his quiet turns that were most mesmerising. His exquisite rendition of What A Difference A Day Made was charged with poignancy, while his grungy, minor-key twist on Pure Imagination was dark introspection that stopped time.

His bravura back-up comprised Tom Richards on saxophone and keyboards, Rory Simmons (trumpet, guitar, percussions), Brad Webb (drums) and Loz Garrett (bass).

When they took a brief break, Cullum beatboxed his way jauntily through I Could Have Danced All Night, a tune from the musical My Fair Lady, which was playing next door. It was cheeky, cheerful and classic Cullum.

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