NOT many singers can claim to have been introduced on stage by Frank Sinatra as “the greatest singer in the world”, especially not in 2014.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
But via an archive audio recording, that’s just how Tony Bennett announced his arrival for this sparkling jaunt through the great American songbook.
Greeted by a standing ovation, the legendary crooner – at 88, he’s the last of his kind – swung into a wry, spry version of Gershwin’s They All Laughed. “Who’s got the last laugh now?” he twinkled, as the crowd whooped their approval.
Despite his advancing years, Bennett’s show is a non-stop marathon of classics. While most of them were delivered in shortened renditions, they never felt perfunctory. Rather, it was as though Bennett wanted to pack in as many old favourites as possible, while, understandably, striving to preserve his voice.
Now huskier around the edges, Bennett’s instrument has gained an affecting strain of intimacy, warmth and pathos. When it did occasionally crack, as on The Way You Look Tonight, the effect was poignant rather than painful. In any case, he can still belt out those high notes when required. His phrasing and control remain wonderfully intact.
One of the great vocal interpreters of jazz/pop standards, he was fully engaged with his beloved songbook. A generous performer, the obvious enjoyment he gained from his virtuoso quartet – including Count Basie’s favourite drummer, Harold Jones – was contagious.
Without a hint of condescension, the cat’s still got it.
Seen on 09.09.14