The labelling of legends has become overly familiar, but in the case of Tony Bennett, it would be difficult to successfully argue it as hyperbole. A veteran of World War 2, his first album was released in 1952 and paved the way to multiple Grammy and Emmy awards, while continuing to release new records. Perhaps the biggest artistic tribute he could have comes by way of his recorded stage introduction: a declaration by none other than Frank Sinatra that Bennett is the best singer in the world.
A standing ovation welcomes Bennett on stage for the last night of this UK tour, an indication of how he is held in the highest regard by his fans, who need not hear a note to lavish him with praise. With a catalogue consisting of over 50 studio albums, putting together a setlist could be an arduous task, yet every selection is greeted by whoops of delight. Rarely breaking the rhythm of performance, early highlights include 'They All Laughed', 'I Got Rhythm' and 'This Is All I Ask', which raises a chuckle as he knowingly glances through the opening lyric of "As I approach the prime of my life". For of course he is a month away from turning 91 and whilst it is no longer as powerful as it once was, he provides the type of vocal performance that would shame many who are half or a third of his years.
As important to the quality of the show is his quartet band, which is regularly given moments to shine with impressive solos that Bennett obviously admires. Yes, these are also a necessity to give the star attraction a break to rest his voice, but the jazz skills they display are impossible not to admire, even if you're not an immediate fan of the genre. On a rare occasion when Bennett talks to his crowd, he delivers a message that they were all hoping for: he does not want to retire. Watching him shuffle on stage with a grin that rarely subsides, this is clearly a man who appreciates and enjoys his line of work. His finale is now well known, but by no means any less impressive: he discards his microphone and engulfs the hall with nothing more than the sheer power of his voice on 'Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)'. It is a genuinely hair-raising moment from an icon that anyone in the industry could learn from.
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