Although he’s 88 years old, Tony Bennett is still the consummate showman—a fact he proved at Fantasy Springs on Friday night, Jan. 30.
Before Tony Bennett came out, his daughter, Antonia Bennett, performed for about 20 minutes, singing standards such as “Teach Me Tonight,” “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Always on My Mind.” She dedicated her performance of “Thank Your Lucky Stars” to her father before introducing him.
A vintage audio clip of Frank Sinatra introducing Tony Bennett played before he walked across the stage, waving and smiling. He began with “Watch What Happens,” and then followed with “They All Laughed,” a song that mentions great scientists and inventors who were laughed at before their moments of triumph. During the song, Bennett even offered a bit of a dance move.
Bennett’s voice isn’t as powerful as it once was, although his power and range are still strong enough, as he showed during “Maybe This Time.” During a performance of Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm,” he pointed out his drummer, Harold Jones; Bennett said Jones was “Count Basie’s favorite drummer.”
Bennett invited Antonia to return to perform Stephen Sondheim’s “Old Friends” with him. The result was beautiful; they hit the harmonies perfectly.
“Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “But Beautiful” and “The Best Is Yet to Come” were all delights that showed off the talents of his backing band. Gary Sargent, his guitarist, played beautiful jazz solos and showed off a lovely sound that fit in nicely with all of Bennett’s standards. Mike Renzi, Bennett’s pianist (who also worked with the late Mel Torme and many others), also showed off his individual talents at times. Bennett pointed out singer Jack Jones, who attended the show and stood up when Bennett mentioned him.
After “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Bennett mentioned his most recent recording, an album with Lady Gaga called Cheek to Cheek. “In case you’re wondering why, she needed the money,” he said—in a tone that didn’t sound like he was joking. The remark got some laughs from the audience—and it was all he said about the album.
The performance lasted more than an hour and, of course, ended with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
Bennett was a pleasure. He still has energy, class and countless fans who enjoy going to his shows and “being old fashioned” with him.
Photos by Kevin Fitzgerald