Tony Bennett: Live Last Night


Live Last Night

By Chris Klimek

We'll just get this out of the way, music lovers: Tony Bennett is, er, classic. As in: He was discovered by one Bob Hope. He's got more years onstage than all the guys in Animal Collective put together. His guest appearance on "The Simpsons" was way back in Season Two.

So, yes. He is advanced. Eighty-two, in Earth years. But when he crooned "The Best Is Yet to Come" at Wolf Trap Thursday night, how could you not believe him?

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Leading a four-piece jazz combo through a 75-minute revue of the brassiest, classiest tunes that have shaped his six-decade career, the kid from Queens born Anthony Dominick Benedetto appeared to get younger as he went, like "Benjamin Button," but with less treacly sentiment.

Sure, that baritone used to be smoother. It used to be a tenor. He still packs enough vocal firepower to land "Maybe This Time," from "Cabaret," with a bravura finish that earned him the first of the evening's several standing ovations. But as he punched out the ebullient "Sing You Sinners" or shook a nimble leg during "The Shadow of Your Smile," any concerns about his viability were long gone.

Bennett's remarkable longevity isn't just physical. He's hung in long enough to see his sophisticated but humble sensibility fall out of fashion and come back again. He's the unironic practitioner of the thumbs-up, and when the situation is especially copacetic, the double thumbs-up. He punctuated nearly every number with a more proprietary gesture, a seeming hybrid of hat-tip (he was hatless) and salute. He also introduced each tune by its author, and paid gracious tribute to Frank Sinatra ("I was swooning with all the girls"), along with the four players sharing his stage.

All class, this cat. At an age where most guys couldn't even hang, he still swings.

By David Malitz |  July 4, 2009; 7:12 PM ET Live Last Night
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