Standing ovation for Tony Bennett at Luglio Suona Bene!

Tony Bennett at Luglio Suona Bene
If ever a performer deserved the title “living legend” it is surely Tony Bennett. Revered alongside the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett is considered one of the greats of American jazz, and at almost 86 years of age and with a sixty year career behind him, seems in no hurry to retire from show business. In fact, the recent chart successes of his Duets and Duets II albums in which he recorded with newer stars such as Amy Winehouse (tragically, her final recorded vocal performance), and Lady Gaga, have helped to introduce him to a younger generation. And most amazingly, his unmistakeable voice is still as warm and wonderful as ever, as he demonstrated on Sunday evening at the Luglio Suona Bene festival to an adoring public in a packed Sala Sinopli at the Auditoium Parco della Musica.

Tony Bennett's daughter Antonia opened the show with a handful of numbers, which included a delightful song by Noël Coward called Sail Away, which I'd never heard before, and Lucky Guy which she dedicated to her father waiting in the wings. The audience responded warmly at the end of her set, but when Tony Bennett appeared on stage, dapper in an off-white jacket, and beaming a huge smile, the audience raised the roof with cheers and applause, with many on their feet before he had even sung a note! Complete hush descended once he started to sing, and it was instantly clear that this would be a very special evening indeed.

Dazzling us with a variety of jazz classics, standards and show tunes, every song was a potential showstopper – from the heartbreaking delicacy with which he sang Just The Way You Look Tonight, Charlie Chaplin's Smile, or Hank Williams' Cold Cold Heart, to the soaring vocals that reached the rafters in the finale of Maybe This Time, or the effortless cool of One For My Baby – there really was something, as they say, for everybody. His signature tune I Left My Heart in San Francisco brought cheers, and I particularly loved his mesmerising performance of his first ever recording Boulevard of Broken Dreams. At one point, he even obliged a shouted request for a song and with a nod to his four man combo, sang Because of You, whilst the Neapolitan song 'O Sole Mio was dedicated to a special guest in the audience, Italian composer Manuel De Sica, who Bennett introduced as the son of an “old friend” of his – Italian film director Vittorio De Sica.

Tony Bennett's nonchalant singing style may have earned him the nickname King of Cool, but he was in a playful mood on Sunday evening, delighting us with dance steps and even the odd twirl. The love affair between Bennett and his fans is clearly a two way relationship – many times during the show he would point at the audience whenever the word “you” was uttered in a song. The absolutely superb backing quartet comprised a roll call of jazz greats - Count Basie's legendary drummer Harold Jones, Marshall Wood on the double bass, Lee Musiker on piano, and guitarist Gray Sargent – with each musician given brief and enjoyable solos during several songs.

The power of Tony Bennett's voice is still formidable. During the evening he would often move the microphone far away from his body, but the spine-tingling highlight of the evening was surely the moment when he set aside his microphone completely at the end of the show, and sang Fly Me to the Moon a cappella, his voice easily carrying to the furthest reaches of the auditorium. Stunning! A standing ovation and chants of Tony! Tony! Tony! brought him back out on stage for one more song, before sending us on our way after a truly unforgettable performance!


LindyLouMac said…
Another living legends performance that you got to witness. :)