Tony Bennett chose to spend his 88th birthday performing a second sold out show at Mission Hill Winery on Saturday night. Being a lover of the standards, I jumped at the chance to witness a performance by such an icon of the popular jazz era. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Bennet is the last living crooner. Or perhaps I'm not giving him full credit with that description. Saturday night he proved he was more than a crooner, improvising on standard melodies and performing fresh arrangements of songs that have been re-arranged many times over.
I was really impressed by Mr. Bennett who has great chops at his advanced age. I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of his voice, and he can belt with the best of them. There may have been a few off notes, but one rarely hears a perfect performance at any concert regardless of the singer's age and he nailed many high notes with apparent ease.
"One for my Baby..."
I expected the amphitheatre to be filled with grey haired ladies and gentlemen but there were people of all ages, with hair in all shades including some shades from the pink and lemon meringue palates. The sold out crowd loved the performer, in fact many of them shouted "We love you Tony" over the course of the evening. He interacted with the crowd easily and with humour. One woman approached the stage to take a photo and he stopped singing, turned to the woman and asked "Is there film in that camera?" The audience laughed and the star struck fan scurried away like a scalded cat, garnering more chuckles from the crowd.
Bennet seemed to love us too and remarked on our beautiful city, thankful for the great time he and his family have had on their visit. If winery owner Anthony Mandl has his way, Bennett will return next summer for another performance or two. If you missed him this year, I recommend you grab the next opportunity to enjoy a performance by this living legend.
Tony, Tony, Tony
(Tony Bennett, Antony Mandl and his son Antony Jr.)