The Prickle (@ThePrickle) August 21, 2016
This was an extremely slick, polished evening, but also one with profound heart and musicianship. Jamie Cullum is a true collaborator, and for this epic prom the most prominent collaborator by far was Tom Richards, who had worked with Cullum to arrange and orchestrate all the music, a mammoth task that incorporated (sometimes all at once): The Heritage Orchestra led by Jules Buckley (a John Wilson-style Big Band with woodwind and string section), the Roundhouse choir (an enormous pop/rock vocal ensemble), as well as a complete rhythm section led by Cullum on piano, along with featured guest performers Dahkhla brass, rapper Coco, Mercury-nominated singer Eska, and the Django Reinhardt-loving Remi Harris trio.
However, arguably the most exciting thing about the prom was the premiere of two brand new Jamie Cullum songs, both wildly different and yet both bold reminders that Cullum is a gifted songwriter: the Phil Spector-esque Life is Grey and the delicate lullaby to his daughters, (Don’t Wake Up in) Somebody Else’s Dream. Another crowdpleasing highlight was Cullum’s all-guns-blazing rendition of his hit The Same Things, featuring what seemed like limitless percussion and Cullum’s wild and energetic vocal, backed by choir at full pelt.
Cullum also left room for much more reflective moments, beginning his prom with a mournful, solo performance of New Orleans, and leading the audience in a dreamy, ethereal singalong to I Can’t Feel My Face (by The Wknd), supported by seemingly improvised note clusters and trills by the hundred-strong ensemble.
The whole prom was extremely impressive and highly enjoyable, but the sheer scale did not appear suited to the Royal Albert Hall’s infamously difficult acoustic. I have no doubt that in a couple of weeks, rewatching on BBC 4, we will get to experience this eclectic and dynamic prom with a better mix, in all its glory.