Jamie Cullum at the Proms review – highbrow mixtape with the odd guest

Royal Albert Hall, London
Musical genres battle it out as Cullum’s special guests, including jazz-soul singer Eska and rapper Coco, add elegance and power to his cruise-ship crooning

The not-exactly-overpopulated terrain where jazz, hip-hop, show tunes and pop meet is dominated by Jamie Cullum, the only artist who can praise the 19th-century spiritual Motherless Child for its “sick, sick beats” without sounding hopelessly contrived. His late-night Prom offered a twist on his multi-genre format: hosting a string of talents who operate in one or other of the genres, he created a highbrow mixtape that generously spotlighted his revolving door of guests. The Mercury prize-nominated jazz-soul singer Eska, Sheffield rapper Coco, the high-voltage Heritage Orchestra and Roundhouse Choir and others put him through his paces, a battle he won through force of personality.

He and Eska were an odd couple on Good Morning, Heartache (“Pretty faithful to the original arrangement,” Cullum points out) – she elegant and measured, he a frazzle-haired piano-pounder. They were no odder than Cullum and Coco, the latter’s muscular flow jabbed through Cullum’s buttercream crooning during a brassy Love for Sale.

He was never stationary: when not beatboxing to a cruise-ship version of Can’t Feel My Face, he was in the balcony, swinging along to Old Devil Moon, or dancing like nobody’s watching to the self-written The Same Things. A showoff in the most agreeable way, Cullum didn’t neglect to mock his lack of height, leading into a fantastically raunchy “theme tune to a Bond film that doesn’t exist”, as he described Edge of Something. He wondered if he could be the next Bond. Perhaps not, but he could play the charismatic saloon pianist.

Contributor

Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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