Jeff Goldblum delivers his enthralling brand of jazz and banter at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Jeff Goldblum is ahead of schedule. 15 minutes before his allotted time slot, he furtively steps on stage with his signature glasses and pork pie hat, dressed in a black top with lightning bolts and striped pants with the same colours to match. We subsequently learn that he’s worn these pants for four gigs and hasn’t washed them in between, eliciting one of the many laughs tonight.
The idiosyncratic performer gets closer to the audience by engaging with them personally, though the physical distance between them as they shout their names creates speed rounds of Chinese whispers. He takes a few questions from the crowd as a warm-up, a brilliant alternative to a separate opening act.
His band members coyly get to their seats and Goldblum introduces them individually with a note of appreciation. Each instrumentalist is spotlighted during their rendition of Charles Mingus’s Nostalgia in Times Square, upstaging the actor with their jazz-playing prowess, making the West London venue almost forget that he’s sat there on the piano as everyone is entranced by their talents.
Goldblum’s musical qualities aren’t as enthralling as his public-speaking gifts, so the breaks he takes to wisecrack some more, and to host quizzes on literature and classic movie quotes (reframed as how the Queen might say them) and share British pick-up lines that reinforce the subtext of flirtation that pervades throughout the show, are welcome.
Back to the music, the performers cover records by Herbie Hancock (Cantaloupe Island) and Nat King Cole (Straighten Up and Fly Right) with the vocal assistance of jazz singer Annie Ellicott. The most uproarious crowd response is received by a cover of Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK, which is transformed from a punk anthem to smooth jazz thanks to Ellicott’s lovely crooning.
A self-contained venue like the Shepherd’s Bush Empire is far more appropriate for this act than Glastonbury, where they most recently performed, as the cosiness allows for greater intimacy with the fans. Goldblum loves to hug, take selfies and chat with the audience, mourning the limited time they’re all spending together. To the fans’ delight, he announces a second album in the works and the sense of attendees pre-ordering tickets for the next concert is palpable.
The Jurassic Park star has an unparalleled energy and we could have spent far more hours entertained in his company. Goldblum’s brand of jazz and banter is as exciting as watching dinosaurs stomping around.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information visit Jeff Goldblum’s website here.
Watch the video for Cantaloupe Island here: