The meteoric rise of Jamie Cullum has been one of 2004's biggest success stories. From being a virtual unknown this time last year, the release of his major label debut Twentysomething last October has led to him becoming the acceptable face of easy listening. From teenagers too cool for Busted et al, through to grannies, his wide spectrum of appeal has seen him well on his way to becoming a household name.
Recorded in the beautiful surroundings of Blenheim Palace earlier this year, this was Cullum's biggest show to date but he doesn't display any hints of nervousness. Indeed, watching him bounce around the stage it's hard to believe that he's just 24 years of age as he commands the stage like a veteran. Whether it's standing on the piano to sing, or slapping it like a drum, he ensures that the show is as entertaining for home viewers as it obviously was for the audience at Blenheim Palace.
The music is well recreated live, with the Twentysomething material being a particular highlight. Although the inspired choice of cover versions (particularly his take on Pharrell Williams' Frontin') is usually more memorable than Cullum's own material, special mention must be made of Twentysomething's title track which springs to life here.
If anything, the gig proves that accusations that Cullum is too lightweight to be taken seriously are wide of the mark. This may not be jazz as Thelonious Monk or Miles Davis played it - but Cullum has a gift for improvisation that is the bedrock of all jazz music. His piano skills are virtuoso, especially on the opening I Get A Kick Out Of You. His version of God Only Knows is really something special - a string rearrangement of the classic Beach Boys tune in the style of The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby. I can smell a Christmas number one here...
True, sometimes Cullum's material leans towards the bland (with Old Devil Moon being a particular culprit) but his charisma and effervescence means that this doesn't matter so much. There may be some who find his onstage antics irritating but there's no denying that the boy is something of a star.
Interspersed with the concert material is a documentary (which can also be watched separately) of Cullum and his band travelling round the United States, where he's been especially well received, and Britain. The interviews with Cullum show him to be a very down to earth archetypal 'nice guy' with a surprisingly varied musical education - there's even footage of him practicing a Nirvana song on his guitar.
There are also a wide variety of extra features on the disc, including a video for The Wind Cries Mary and a South Bank Special on Cullum which was aired earlier this year on ITV. All in all, this is an essential purchase if you were at the Blenheim Palace gig and certainly worth buying if you're a Cullum fan. One for Christmas stockings everywhere, in fact.