Glasgow, George Square, July 6, 2003
By Bernhard Vogel
The fabulous show Tony Bennett and his Quartet had put on at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Thursday (July 3, see my previous review) still was on our minds when we arrived in Scotland yesterday to catch his Sunday evening performance at the Royal Bank Glasgow Jazz Festival.
The setting was very different: A small open-air stage at George Square in the centre of Glasgow, and a sellout standing-only crowd (entrance fee was only 5 pounds) greeted Tony with enthusiastic applause and lots of yelling as he embarked on another 90 mins. of what turned out to be the same set of songs as the Royal Albert Hall show. And a royal treat indeed, being able to listen to the wonderful programme once more, to pay attention again to certain moments you had been reflecting about in the past few days. Since we arrived early we were standing directly in front of the stage and had a fantastic view of Mr Bennett, who turned up to be in the same extraordinarily fine vocal form as in London.
Hence my advice, repeating what I already wrote earlier, by all means go and catch a concert by Tony these days – there are several more chances as Bennett (who closed the British part of his tour tonight with a concert in Manchester) now comes to continental Europe, performing at the Copenhagen/Denmark Jazz Festival on Thursday, then continuing to the festivals in Den Haag (Netherlands), Montreux (Switzerland) and Perugia (Italy). Our kind of music just doesn’t get any better than this!
All the highlights already described in the London review happened again, but there also were several nice moments unique to the Glasgow performance.
Bennett has praised the Glasgow audience on several occasions for its vivid enthusiasm and outpoor of sympathy, and now I know why. Their love and affection was just grabbing. On a few occasions, e.g. with „It Had To Be You“ and „I Left My Heart In San Francisco“, the whole place started to sing the song along with Tony. „Hey I feel like Mitch Miller!“ he quipped, twinkling his eye.
When he did his trademark Astairish dance steps during „Steppin’Out“, he got so much involved with people’s swooning responses that he had to laugh throughout almost the whole second chorus and needed all of his professionalism to manage to get back into the lyrics. „Now, you crack me up“ he said during the song, while all the quartet members also had to chuckle. You could tell from the expressions in his face just HOW much he was enjoying this incident.
As visible from an inscription on the right side of the instrument, John Oddo played a Boesendorfer piano this night supplied by a Scottish company from Edinburgh. When having finished his rendition of „I Love A Piano“ and swinging impeccably to its Gershwin lines („I love the fine way/you treat a Steinway“), Bennett also noticed the inscription and remarked something like „I just realize I did the wrong lyrics… but I want to thank Mr Boesendorfer to make me think it was a Steinway“.
And when he took his final bows after closing the show with his Sinatra tribute and „How Do You Keep The Music Playing“, he applauded his Scottish audience and quipped „Hey you sound like the Highland Games!“.
Finally, this time another highlight came after the show when the three of us (a fellow member from our German Sinatra Society of which Mr Bennett is an honorary member, a good Sinatra friend of mine from Edinburgh and myself) were taken backstage courtesy of a kind invitation by Tony’s road manager, and were able to personally meet Mr Bennett to pay our respects and thank him for the wonderful performances.
When he stepped out of the small cabin they had set up for him to retreat to after the show, dressed in a blue trench coat, he was visibly a bit exhausted from having given his all again while on stage, but neverless he was very friendly to us. We shook hands for ‚hello‘, and he kindly signed the photographs and CD covers we had brought along. I had chosen the cover of his Sinatra Tribute CD („Perfectly Frank“, Columbia) and while signing it his eyes glanced and he said „Oh yeah, that’s wonderful“. Also, Mr Bennett is a perfect gentleman, he actually shakes your hand and looks at you, and responds to what you are saying. (There are many ‚ordinary‘ people who don’t manage to do this, let alone celebrities.) . His good-bye when leaving for his limousine to pick him up was another handshake for all of us.
Needless to say that this was the perfect closing to one of the most exciting concert trips I ever had, the memories of which I will always treasure. Having just returned home, I’m still humming the tunes… that golden sun still shines for me.
„If you allow I would like to go on singing for another sixty years“ he said earlier during the show, reflecting on his six decades on stage. None of us would have any objections.
Thank you Mr Bennett for the great musicianship we were able to witness, and may you have lots of encores.