Tony Bennett Comes Full Circle

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Ken D'Angelo '71, Staff Writer

Tony Bennett had his first number one hits in 1951. They were “Because of You” and “Cold Cold Heart” [written by Hank Williams Sr.]. Last September, he had a number one album of duo’s with Lady Gaga. He has had quite a run over his sixty plus and continuing years as an entertainer. This last Sunday he was in concert at the Turning Stone Hotel Event Center in front of over 2,500 people. In the late 1940’s he started his career playing bars, small clubs and resort lounges.

The concert at Turning Stone was like a lounge act only in front of an arena-size audience. The opening act was Tony’s daughter Antonia. She has inherited a goodly portion of her father’s talent. One of the best responses from the audience came when she and her dad did a duet and danced together. There was Tony, a piano, a guitar, a bass and drums.

Mr. Bennett is a consummate professional. His warmth and obvious love of his work gave the performance an intimacy of a much smaller venue. His playlist was a litany of classic American music. He held the audience in his hands with songs like, “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Rags to Riches,” “ The Shadow of Your Smile,” “If I Ruled the World,” “ Cheek to Cheek,” [a song he claims was Lady Gaga’s favorite in their album of duos] and his signature tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

The audience gave him nine different standing ovations through the full 68 minutes of songs that he gave them. Think about it, there was no intermission. It was over an hour of Tony Bennett singing with a gusto and energy level that belied his age of 88 years. By the way, during the show Mr. Bennett told a whopper of a lie. He said that he has been singing for 50 years. He’s been singing in front of grateful audiences for over 60 years.

There is a high probability that many of you young readers have little or no idea who Tony Bennett is. I could say that Frank Sinatra considered Tony to be the best singer he knew, except it is sadly possible that you may be as unfamiliar with Mr. Sinatra as you may be for Tony. Here is some unsolicited but sincere advice: Get on Youtube and  search for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Then listen. Then when you realize how great this guy is, go buy one or two of his albums. Tony urged the audience to buy the Lady Gaga album. He said she needed the money to help pay for her wedding.