Michael Buble 

Dec. 7, Verizon Arena

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Michael Buble finished, um, bouncing — yeah, bouncing — his way through what he called "the biggest hit of my life," the smash "Haven't Met You Yet," left the stage to thunderous applause after performing for more than an hour and a half and hardly had time to catch his breath before coming back for more.

Sporting close-cropped hair, a dark suit, a skinny black tie and an easy, infectious grin at Verizon Arena, Buble opened his encore with two more favorites, "Feeling Good" and "Me and Mrs. Jones," before putting the crowd of 6,216 in the mood for Christmas with a lively, romping rendition of "Let It Snow" and then topping it all off with a touching version of "A Song for You."

Buble — singer, entertainer, would-be comedian — bantered with his audience throughout the show, sometimes sincere, sometimes silly, often a tad off-color (well, he did admit "my filter is broken,") and frequently tossed out compliments — "you guys are awesome" and "I'll come back here as many times as you'll have me" and "I love you to death."

We've been to enough concerts, and, well, we're just cynical enough, to figure he does this at every place he plays, but somehow, when he says thanks for the umpteenth time and uses a line like "here's the most perfect way to tell you how I feel" as an introduction to "A Song for You," you sense he's being pretty genuine when he quiets the crowd and finishes off the soulful Leon Russell tune without a microphone. It's that ability to connect with the crowd — and believe us, he has that down pat — and his knack for making a large arena seem intimate that make his concerts an event. Whether you like him for his take on old standards or his new hits that sound like oldies or you just got dragged to a concert by a girlfriend or wife, you can't help but have a good time.

Perhaps the fact that he was recently nominated for two Grammy Awards — Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Haven't Met You Yet" and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for "Crazy Love" — gives credence to his popularity. And then there's the ability of the Canadian singer — occasionally backed by his terrific opening act, the "vocal play" group Naturally 7 — to make just about any song he sings work, from Frank Sinatra's "I've Got the World on a String" to "Georgia on My Mind" and "All of Me" and even "Mack the Knife."

Buble's at his best, however, when he's singing his own hits, like the crowd-pleasing "Home," which has now been successfully covered by other artists, like Blake Shelton. Or his chart-topping love song, "Everything," with its "you're a falling star, you're the getaway car, you're the line in the sand when I go too far" lyrics.

Throughout his still young career, he's been compared to members of the legendary Rat Pack and others, but it's best to just enjoy him for being Michael Buble.


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