Words/photos Wal Reid

Wearing the sort of attire that only actor Bill Nighy could get away with, singer Michael Bolton nonchalantly strolled on stage, acoustic guitar in tow. It was a night where the audience participation was interactive and quite parochial, with Bolton warning one female fan with a sign about coming on stage, while one cried “Blonde Adonis” (Sounded like “Blond Adonny”) and another shouting “Can I have your jacket please?”. All sober parental behaviour that would’ve embarrassed the hell out of their kids – Well, it is Michael Bolton after all folks.

The Multiple Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter sartorially fashioned in jeans and plush velvet dinner jacket, was backed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, led by edgy Aussie conductor Jessica Gethin, while flanked by his singers and band, it was an imposing sight to behold. The grandeur of the night heightened by songs that made him (and his mullet) famous in the eighties and early nineties, archetypal Soul classics set against the splendour of The Civic theatre, a night hard to fault.

The energetic 65 year old showed no signs of slowing down, his voice given a good workout on hits (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of the Bay, The Bee Gee’s To Love Somebody and the Marvin Gaye classic Ain’t No Mountain High Enough with Australian singer Silvie Paladino, who was impressive in her own right. She joined Bolton for a set of duets including Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love (popularised by Adele) that really showcased their singing abilities, as saxophonist, Jason Peterson DeLaire added smooth with his amazing Sax soloing.

Bolton, has a natural resonance, his unique gravel-esque timbre a pleasure to hear live backed up with interesting stories regarding his hits, lending gravitas to his unique voice. When he sings, its as if he’s hardly trying, or breaking a sweat, especially on the Pavarotti classic, Nessun Dorma. Said I Loved You But I Lied was a prime example of his relaxed approach, while undoubtedly one of his biggest hits he ever wrote, How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, garnished the nights biggest crowd reaction, giving goose bumps to those in attendance.

Michael Bolton Symphony Tour was a pleasant night, regardless of what you think of the singer. Even though he was a bit wooden, he possesses a cynical sense of humour, the crowd outbursts of “Jack Sparrow” or “Lonely Island” referring to his collaboration with performing with the American comedy trio, led by funny man Andy Samberg. Bolton rueing if only he had more time.

The mighty Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra did a stellar job backing Bolton, it was a musical journey of Music’s greatest hits. Bolton’s age-defying looks & voice, made for a truly extraordinary evening. I mean, what else would you expect from the singer (still) dubbed the “World’s Sexist Man”?