Bennett still oozes the sort of class the Stones had lost at 42, let alone 72...
Radio City is a vast, immaculately preserved venue, an Art Deco throwback to an era of grace and grandeur in pop history. So is Tony Bennett, tonight celebrating his 50th anniversary in showbiz, accompanied by the Count Basie orchestra.
He’s 72, but onstage Bennett moves with the seasoned panache of a 50-year-old. He can still hold those climactic high notes without wavering and the hits come tumbling out at almost medley pace, with Bennett rising to a big ba-boom finale on each, the ceiling in danger of breaking out in cracks and each old standard being greeted with a standing ovation. Stalin’s speeches at the annual party congress can scarcely have met with more ecstatic applause.
“It wasn’t always like this for me,” says Bennett. “When I started out, I was playing to tables and no-one took any notice of me. They were gangsters, making deals.” No wiseguys here tonight, merely a well-heeled cross section of New Yorkers, many of them 20- or 30-something couples who weren’t even born when ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’ (another highlight, natch) came out. A little more exploration of the songs might not have gone amiss, but no complaints – trad jazz/pop this may have been, but Bennett still oozes the sort of class the Stones had lost at 42, let alone 72. Swing on, Tone.