Charismatic Buble croons for Consol crowd

| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 12:30 a.m.

Canadian crooner Michael Buble filled Consol Energy Center on Friday night with his delightful music, boyish charm and good looks, and engaging, warm personality with plenty of jokes and wisecracking.

Buble, clad in his signature black tuxedo and bowtie, gave us two hours full of hit after hit, including many from his popular new album “To Be Loved” such as the romantic “Close Your Eyes,” the classic “You Make Me Feel So Young,” and the fun “It's a Beautiful Day,” which ended the pre-encore set list and came backed by cartoon images of a bright, happy sky and airplanes. The Buble favorite “Haven't Met You Yet” had the singles in the audience swooning and hoping the song would become biographical. The long encore sizzled with the intense “Cry Me a River,” “Save the Last Dance For Me,” and others.

Buble's interesting stage setup featured a sliding platform where the band members sat, and moved subtly between the front of the stage and the background. Large rectangular pieces of the stage often would rise to a slant behind Buble — sometimes all at once, and sometimes just a few pieces at a time for a cool jagged look. The visual effects also included a surprise burst of pyrotechnics at the very beginning of the show, when flames shot up from the stage. At one point, Buble walked through the aisles of the floor audience out to a secondary stage at the other end of the arena to get close to fans there.

One of Buble's most endearing qualities is the way he communicates and bonds with the audience during his shows. He clearly loves his fans and gives people a sense of warm friendship with him. Buble invited a young woman, holding up a sign that it's her 18th birthday, up to the front so he could hug and kiss her, and everyone could sing “Happy Birthday” in a moment that undoubtedly will go down as one of her life's most memorable. Buble congratulated a couple celebrating their 60th anniversary. During the encore, Buble invited a little girl onto the stage to join him as he playfully sang “You've Got a Friend in Me,” a song originally from the movie “Toy Story” that Buble includes his own version of on “To Be Loved.” The moment was adorable, and a thrill for the child that she'll talk about for years.

The audience returned the friendship to Buble. One front-row fan gave him Pittsburgh Penguins baby clothes for Buble's newborn son Noah, who he says accompanied him for his Pittsburgh trip.

One of the evening's highlights came from Buble's singing of the Beatles classic “All You Need Is Love,” which included a thick shower of confetti in the shape of red and white hearts. The confetti covered the floor and the seats and hair, and fans smiled and laughed as they held up their hands to catch the flying hearts.

Many people have compared Buble to Frank Sinatra, and we think he really does, indeed, bring that level of pizzazz and style to this generation.

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