July 2nd 2002
On July 2nd I had the pleasure to see Tony Bennett perform in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The concert began on time at 8 pm. Tony wore a blue suit and was accompanied by his quartet, namely Lee Musiker on piano, Paul Langosch on bass, Clayton Cameron on drums and Gray Sargent on guitar.
The quartet first came on stage, then Tony was announced „Ladies and Gentleman Mr. Tony Bennett!“ with a big applause the singer joined the stage and went right into „Watch What Happens“. In the bridge of the song Bennett thanked „for comin’ by tonight“.
Next song was the well known Bennett classic: „The Best Is Yet To Come“. Of course, Tony delivered once again a wonderful interpretation.
In retrospective I must say that among all songs performed that evening the third song was definitely one highlight of the show. Only with the exquisite accompaniment of Lee Musiker Tony did a marvellous „saloon“ rendition of „Maybe This Time“. He really managed to create a very intimate atmosphere in the big hall. After finishing the song and a big applause Lee Musiker did a longer solo of the song with Tony joining in again at the end. By now it was already clear that Tony had found a great pianist in Musiker. Although his sound is quite different from Ralph Sharons’ he does fit very well in the group and to Tony Bennett.
„How about this wonderful piano player“ were the words Tony said, introducing the next song (and how right he is), Irving Berlin’s „I Love A Piano“. And again Musiker played a very fresh sounding solo.
The next song Tony performed was the classic „All of Me“. This Time the instrumental solo was played by Gray Sargent.
The first Gershwin song this evening was the swingin’ „I Got Rhythm“ once again with a solo by the brilliant Gray Sargent and one by Clayton Cameron on drums.
The next song was „introduced by the best performer throughout the united states. Written by Harold Arlen and Yip Haburg“, Tony said. Of course, it’s Judy Garland’s „Over Rainbow“. Just accompanied by the piano Bennett delivered a great interpretation of one of the greatest songs ever written.
A swinging „Who Cares“ is the second Gershwin song that evening, after this one „People“ followed.
„Here’s a song written by the greatest film maker that ever lived, Mr. Charlie Chaplin and I love to sing it for you“ Bennett told the audience introducing one of my all time favourites, the beautiful „Smile“. With a very minimalistic piano accompaniment he sang wonderfully moving, and the solo once again by Gray Sargent was exceptional as well.
Before going to the next number Tony said that he’s already 50 years in show business and that „if he gets lucky enough he wants to stay for another 50 years“. Having said this he went right into „I Wanna be Around“.
After that hit the biggest of them all followed „I Left My Heart In San Francisco“ Of Course, Tony got a BIG applause. It is always a pleasure to hear him doing „his“ song, it never gets boring!
After „his own songs“ Bennett did six Fred Astaire classics. Starting with his unbeatable performance of „Steppin Out“ („Who you think I am? Tom Jones“), then Irving Berlin’s „Let’s Face The Music and Dance“, next was a subtle interpretation of „A Foggy Day“. The fourth song of the Astaire section was a wonderful loosely delivered „Your Are All the World To Me“ followed by the last Gershwin Song of the evening „They Can’t Take That Away From Me“. The last of the six „Astaire Songs“ was „Old Devil Moon“ and of course Tony did his great version holding the word „love“ for an unbelievable long time.
The „Astaire Section“ was followed by the „Ellington Section“ if you will. „Caravan“ was the first Ellington tune and it was absolutely great, featuring once again the talents of Sargent and Cameron. After this rather fast song, the mood changed into blue. Paul Langosch on the bass gave Tony a wonderful background and delivered a superb solo as well on a rather quiet interpretation of Mood Indigo“. The last song of the Ellington Section „It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing“) was heavier on the instrumental side. Clayton Cameron’s solo on the drums and eventually just with his brushes on a snare drum showed that he is in a class of his own. I have seen him doing this quite a few times on TV or video, but you have to experience this live to really get it!
„Maybe This Time“ was the first Highlight, the second was now to come. It was „Fly Me To The Moon“. Tony doing this song without a microphone is not new, anyway it is always something special. His voice is still so clear and powerful. You can even perfectly understand the words he seems to whisper in his moving ballad interpretation of this song – just glorious!
He then talked about Glasgow and that it is special city for him and then went right into Billy’s Joel’s „New York State Of Mind.
On Saturday before the concert Tony Bennett’s long time friend and colleague the unique Rosemary Clooney died. I was very curios if he was going to mention this and how he would pay tribute to her. Well, he did and it was at least for me very moving and certainly the highlight of the evening. Tony just said „I don’t wanna bring anybody down, but Rosemary Clooney died“. He paused for a while and added „She was beautiful“. By then one could already see and hear in his voice how deeply moved he was. The piano set in and Tony began: „Once Upon A Time A Girl With Moonlight In her Eyes…“ Still one could hear a kind of uncertainty in his voice. His interpretation of this song was so emotional, beautiful and moving that I will forever remember this moment.
„Aren’t these musicians wonderful?“ he asked before having „a little jam session In A Mellow Tone’“ In this little session we met every single player of the quartet, which deserves a special praise. It is nothing else but excellent!
„Here’s a song Frank Sinatra asked me to do for him. And boy if you didn’t to do what he told you, you have no idea in how much trouble you could get“. This was the introduction for the closing number, the A. and M. Bergman / M. Legrand song „How Do You Keep The Music Playing?“ Tony interpreted it just beautifully and of course, there is no better way to end a concert then with the powerful sung phrase: THE MUSIC NEVER ENDS.
I hope Tony „stays for another fifty years“!