I couldn’t have chosen a better artist for Bumbershoot’s Sunday afternoon Mainstage show. At a mere 86, Tony Bennett is still wowing crowds with his love of music, his strong and velvety voice, and wonderful stories from his over 50 years of music experience.
I must admit, I was so excited that I kept yelling “Tony Bennett” at full volume with fellow IRW writer Julia. Yes, the people in front of us did give a few looks—mostly in that wow-I-can’t-believe-you’re-this-excited-isn’t-that-cute sort of way.
Acutely aware of the fact that he’s quite old, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have seen artists, in their later years, not live up to their legend. Tony Bennett, however, with a full hour + set, left nothing wanting. Sure, he probably doesn’t move like he used to and he certainly sings like an older Tony Bennett, but he still has control of his voice which floated through Key Arena, at times soft and at other time loud and powerful. Another noteworthy musician was his drummer, Harold Jones, who was not only Count Basie’s drummer but also has chops that would compete with drummers half his age.
Throughout the set, he included stories from his life, like anecdotes starring Hank Williams and Rosemary Clooney. Filled with old standards, and some newer melodies, his set ranged from upbeat to slow ballads. Every song ended with a hand out to the audience and a million dollar smile. It was that million dollar smile, combined with being in the presence of a legend, that brought me to tears. Seeing Tony Bennett perform live is a dream fulfilled.
(All photos by Morgen Schuler)