Lord, please let me look half as good and have one-third the energy when I'm 87 that Tony Bennett does.
Through the years, I've had the good fortune of seeing many music legends perform live, from Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Bruce Springsteen to John Fogerty, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, B.B. King, John Denver, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Neil Diamond and others. Last night, at Red Butte Garden, I got to cross another legend off my musical bucket list: Anthony Benedetto, aka Tony Bennett.
Bennett's daughter Antonia opened the show with a handful of songs. They were pleasant enough, although she doesn't possess her dad's pipes.
And then, there he was, looking sharp as always, decked out in black trousers with razor-sharp creases, silk tie, starched shirt, and light-yellow sports coat.
Kicking off the night with "Watch What Happens," the classic crooner crooned most of his classic hits, including his big country hit, Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart," which he was forced to record in 1951 by record producer Mitch Miller, against his wishes.
Bennett seemed to genuinely enjoy singing for the appreciative Red Butte crowd, beaming from ear-to-ear for most of the night. And his voice, although beginning to show the wear and tear of age, is still superb, especially when hitting the big finale of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
His version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was as haunting as "Sing You Sinners" was uplifting. And, I got goosebumps hearing Bennett sing my favorite of his songs, "The Way You Look Tonight."
He has a sense of humor about his 60-plus year career in music, too, joking that he and Rosemary Clooney were the first American idols.
And, Mr. Bennett had everyone smiling as he closed out his 70-minute set with Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" and the classic "When You're Smiling."
87 years young and going strong, Tony Bennett is a class act all the way.
June 20, 2013, Red Butte Garden set list:
Watch What Happens
They All Laughed
Maybe This Time (from Cabaret)
I Got Rhythm
Sing You Sinners
Just in Time
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
The Good Life
Once Upon a Time
The Shadow of Your Smile
One For My Baby
For Once in My Life
The Way You Look Tonight
That Old Black Magic
I Left My Heart in San Francisco
When You're Smiling