Concert Reviews

Tony Bennett at Centre In The Square

Photographs by Lee-Ann Richer. 

Some of the most famous crooners in history are greats like Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop and last but not least Tony Bennett. Well one of the original crooners who is still with us today, entertained the crowd at Centre In The Square, in Kitchener, as a pre-Halloween gift. Tony Bennett sang, danced, told stories and wooed, at the sold out show, on Thursday October 30th.  

You might think that most New York residents at the age of 88 might be going for a stroll, painting in Central Park, or sitting back in their rocker telling you stories of how they fought in World War ll. Well Mr Bennett does all and more! He has earned 17 Grammys, dozens of gold and platinum records, resulting in millions and millions of records sold. And, by the way, he has a #1 Album in 2014, “Cheek to Cheek” with Lady Gaga. Currently, he is on tour with his daughter Antonia Bennett, selling out venues effortlessly, and I will say it again, at the age of 88! Stop and think about that for a second! 

Tony Bennett’s daughter Antonia Bennett opened the evening, backed by four talented jazz/pop musicians. She is a chip off the old block. She has a beautiful and clear voice. She was reminiscent of a 40s torch singer.  She included stories about the songs she was singing. She told us that she had been back in Nashville and had a chance to perform “Always On My Mind” to Brenda Lee.  She also expressed how lucky she was to travel all around the world performing and being able to spend the time with her dad. 

Next, the theatre darkened, and the voice of the announcer bellowed, “And now, a message from Frank Sinatra…”. You then heard an old recording of Frank Sinatra saying, “Tony’s gonna come on now and he’s gonna tear the seats out of the place for ya, because he’s my man, this cat. I said it publicly in the paper and I’m gonna say it again, he’s the greatest thing in the world today, this man, Mr. Tony Bennett!”

Centre In the Square was filled with the thunder of applause! The spotlight hit the left side of the stage where Tony Bennett appeared. Walking out you could see his ear to ear smile. He waved and went into his opening song “Watch What Happens”. His set of two dozen songs was filled with history laden classics from legends like Ginger Rogers, Liza Minnelli, George Gershwin, Hank Williams, Fred Astaire, Marvin Gay, Frank Sinatra, and of course…Tony Bennett!

After the first three songs I helped my wife who (was photographing the show for Live in Limbo) with her camera equipment to another area of the building. She had to store her gear before we would be permitted to watch the remainder of the show. I could hear Mr. Bennett hitting notes all the way at the back of the building! His voice resonated through the walls! He still has it after sixty plus decades of singing. I have witnessed other performers (some, many years younger) who don’t have nearly that power in their voices. This man nailed it. With passion!

Upon reentering we were back in time to watch Mr Bennett call his daughter out for a duet. Their voices were a beautiful blend. I noticed that he devoted time to each band member. He allowed them to shine in their own spotlight. Speaking of spotlights, I have never seen lighting that accurate. When someone had a solo, the spotlight was on them instantly and would shift back to Mr Bennett the second it was over. My hat is off to the lighting crew!

 The average age was probably around 65-70. My wife pointed out that there wasn’t a cell phone to be seen. I joked and said at that age probably no one owns one. In reality this was a crowd that wanted to experience the show with their own eyes rather than through a two inch monitor.  

The backup band for the evening consisted of drums, upright bass, guitar and piano. Often the band played so quietly yet you could hear every note and every brush stroke. It was like you were listening to a high fidelity record. They were monster musicians. 

Mr. Bennett’s show transported you back in time. I went expecting a lot from this legend and he delivered way beyond.  He had all the jazz, sass and class that you’d want from someone of his era! He is blessed to have perfect pitch and also blessed with the power to deliver classics such as “Sing You Sinners”, “Steppin’ Out With My Baby”, “The Way You Look Tonight” and, “I Got Rhythm”. And who can forget his dance moves!  HE has Rhythm!!!

Of course he performed the timeless hit, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”. After he was finished he picked up some bouquets of roses that adoring fans had placed at the front of the stage.  In all concerts I’ve attended this is the first time I’ve seen someone give the performer, roses. It was a very classy, and well-deserved, gesture,

Mr Bennett dedicated “The Good Life” to Lady Gaga.  He joked everyone should go out and buy it as she needs the money!  Judging from how hard the audience laughed, they all must know who Lady Gaga is.

 He told us a story about how he received a letter from Charlie Chaplin, thanking him for making his song “Smile” popular again and went on to perform it.  He followed that song with his huge hit “When You’re Smiling”.

He closed with this final song: “Fly Me to the Moon”. Just when you thought you couldn’t be any more dazzled, he put the mic down and sang without it. Before the use of microphones, people like Al Jolson and opera singers, had to be able project their voices to the back of the theatre. This was a very grand finale!!!

I can’t count the number of standing ovations he received. People were clapping long after he left the stage. Another thing I noticed was Tony Bennett smiled the entire evening.  It was an evening of smiles, laughs, and memories! His happiness was contagious. He made me feel good! 

I would like to send a special thanks to Live in Limbo and Karen and the amazing staff at Centre In the Square for the privilege of seeing Mr Tony Bennett. This was a one of a kind show.  

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.