Gig Review: Jamie Cullum and support Tawiah - York Barbican (UK Tour) ✭✭✭✭✭

Jamie Cullum
Photo by @jencharlie

York Barbican

Reviewed By Jo England

11th March 2020: The evening began quiet and relaxed, a near to full York Barbican eagerly awaiting the main act. The show opened with Tawiah, an upcoming British neo soul singer from London. Accompanied by her guitarist, Tawiah’s melodic soulful voice filled the arena and captivated the audience.  Tawiah spoke of her music and her background in between songs and engaged with the audience throughout.  Performing songs from her debut album “Starts Again” showcasing her incredible voice and talents as a musician on the guitar and keyboard alongside Alex Reeve on guitar.  Closing her act, Tawiah spoke of her strict Pentecostal upbringing and a heart-warming tale of her Ghanaian Great Grandmother who lived to be 103 and how at her 100th Birthday Tawiah recorded her singing her favourite hymn, which opens her song “Mother’s Prayer”,  stating she now takes her Great Grandmother on tour with her - definitely a lump in the throat moment! The audience were enthralled by Tawiah’s talents, showing their appreciation as she left the stage. 
After a short interval the lights went back down again and on stage arrived Jamie Cullum and his band of 5 musicians and 2 female vocalists.  Opening with a harmonious version of  “Mankind” from his 2019 album Taller accompanied only by a guitar and double bass, the audience were gripped from the go.  Jamie, now age 40, still looking as youthful as ever with a voice as soulful and pleasing to the ear as when he first hit the scene over 20 years ago, wowed the crowd with his skin tight sequinned trousers! 

Photo by @jencharlie
Jamie then led straight into the song “Taller” energetically playing his grand piano and demonstrating his signature piano playing-come-dancing, warming the crowd up and introducing his band members.  It was then time for an old favourite from 2005’s Catching Tales, “Get Your Way” which really got everyone’s feet tapping along and enjoying the sounds from the brass and wind instruments. Jamie conversed with the Audience throughout “Get Your Way” encouraging screams and clapping which the audience were only too happy to oblige. 
After another song from the latest album (“drink”) Jamie performed another classic from the popular 2003 album Twentysomething, “I Get A Kick Out Of You” during which each band member had the opportunity to showcase their amazing talents on their instruments. 
The respect Jamie has for his band and vocalists was evident throughout, the relationships shining through the banter, Jamie leading a chorus of “Happy Birthday” to his drummer whose 34th birthday it was and how lucky he was to be spending it in York!
The band left the stage and Jamie was left alone with just him and his piano to perform his cover of the classic hit “What A Difference A Day Makes” from Twentysomething.  Appreciative “whoops” from the audience were given throughout the track, everyone fully immersed in Jamie and his ballad.  
As Jamie introduced his next track with the band now back on stage, he joked about the current state of affairs and how we need anything more to be anxious about! Singing “age of anxiety” the lyrics really showed his insecurities he had earlier talked about relating to his career (“will my career reignite?”)  and heartfelt references to his family and friends such as the Late Amy Winehouse as well as touching upon world political matters referring to the European Exit. Jamie got the crowd involved in a sing off, splitting the arena with choruses of “whoa whoa” and “only love survives of us”
The audience were in for a real treat during his next song,  “When I Get Famous” an accolade to the girls who ignored him at school.  Jamie took the audience participation to the next level and jumped off stage, singing and dancing up the auditorium stairs much to the annoyance of the security man whom he tried to engage in dancing with, who luckily took it in good humour! 
Jamie, now back on stage led “when I get famous” into a piano version of a slim shady track to which his guitarist showed off his talents with a solo. 
An acapella start to the song All At Sea which Jamie described as a song he wrote at 19 proved he is a natural born song writer and performer from an early age.  As the tempo increased Jamie let the crowd into a little secret saying they didn’t have to stay in their seats and if everyone came down to the front at once for a dance there would be nothing the men in the polo shirts could do about it, echoing what he had said at the start of the show about it being his show and whatever he said went! The crowd did as Jamie asked and the front of the auditorium in front of the stage was soon bopping with heads and hands in the air.  Jamie’s sense of humour shone through when he demonstrated how to dance with no inhibitions, like no one was watching and encouraged the crowd to all do so at the same time after the count of 4, building the suspension to the count down with the crowd clapping along to Jamie’s chants of “wait till I count to 4”.  The audience, in true reflection of the night, obliged and it’s unlikely there was a person in there who wasn’t giving it large!

Photo by @jencharlie
The carnival atmosphere continued as Jamie and his band went off stage and appeared with drums attached to them performing a marching band end to the track and the night with Jamie saying his thank yous and goodbyes and he and the band leaving the stage, or was it the end...? 
There was of course cries of “more” and Jamie and the band swiftly arrived back on stage to perform the encore of “You and Me Are Gone” (The Pursuit, 2009) during which the talented clarinet player took to the front of the stage to perform a solo which was amazingly executed and flawless (apart from him almost getting the giggles at the crowds heckles) and finished off by an outstanding drum solo from his drummer. 
Jamie asked the excited audience if they would like one more which of course they did! Jamie took his seat once more at the piano for “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You”, which finally closed the almost 2 hour performance leaving everyone feeling euphoric and satisfied.
Jamie engaged with the audience throughout the night and conversed in shout outs, often almost collapsing into a fit of giggles, demonstrating he still thrives off the banter and audience participation as well as his love of music and performing.  A huge amount of credit should also go to his amazingly talented band and vocalists, they were just as remarkable as Jamie himself was and they really made the show. 
Jamie Cullum proved tonight he is as much the soulful jazz singer as he is the dynamic showman he always was, captivating the crowds with his melodic tones and energetic performances throughout the night.  He may not be any Taller in stature but after tonight’s performance he has shown he is not just that Twentysomething he once was. 
Five stars ✭✭✭✭✭
Photos courtesy of @jencharlie
Tour Dates
9th March – Ireland, Dublin 
11th March – York, Barbican 
12th March – Glasgow, Armadillo 
13th March – Sheffield, Sheffield City Hall 
15th March – Birmingham, Birmingham Symphony Hall 
16th March – Oxford, Oxford New theatre 
18th March – London, London Palladium 
19th March - London, London Palladium 
20th March – Gateshead, Sage 1 
23rd March – Liverpool, Liverpool Philharmonic 
24th March – Cardiff, St David’s Hall 
25th March – Manchester, Bridgewater Hall 
27th March – Portsmouth, Portsmouth Guildhall