It truly does take ‘thought and time and rhyme to make a poem sing’ and Tony Bennett proved his obligation to that belief he has upheld for over almost 70 years for the loving audience at ACL Live. And it was love that was so omnipresent in the air that night – from this legend’s fandom to his admiration of his fellow musicians and audience, to the couples canoodling in their seats, to the veneration of the music itself by all present – it was a true celebration of adoration of that poetry in motion.
Tony Bennett’s daughter, Antonia, opened the performance priming the audience’s ears with the scintillating jazz sounds that highlighted the hearts of all in attendance. For a singer who is so legendary in maintaining a true musical lifetime achievement, a voice so synonymous with many of the American Standards, one can’t help but view his performance with a nostalgic eye. At 91 years of age, Bennett can still belt it out with an indisputable level of passion, though it shouldn’t be a surprise that someone who was responsible for writing the bulk of the soundtrack to the classic American love affair can uphold that talent throughout their career. Experiencing this live, however, was a treat – its own romantic homage to yesteryear as the iconic crooner ran through an impressive set list of renowned classics, all the while displaying the very portrait of an artist that fans came to see and experience.
Bathed in the blue and purple lights of the Moody Theater, Tony Bennett and his impressive accompanying band dealt out two hours of songs from his renowned compendium, each member showcasing what they came to grace the audience with and highlighted each other’s flair. Between serenading classics like “Love is Here to Stay” and “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” Bennett added his own flair, even in suave subtleties like slipping into the lyrics a “gesundheit” to a sinusy fan without missing a beat. Not just the years have made him a performer, what he does comes from the heart, and that love shines throu
gh in his presentation. It is obvious he lives to perform and was born to do it. Often following a song he would end with open arms of reverence, not for himself but for the music, as if presenting the love put into each masterpiece to his listeners. And this reverence extended to the audience as well, as the massive applause he received was a collaboration of love; love for, to and because of the music. This emotion held strong as he performed for Austin the first song he ever recorded – “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” then inquiring every few songs after that if he should continue – each time bringing a unanimous agreement along with a standing ovation. As the night progressed and was forced to come to an end, he put down the mic and let the power of his voice speak for itself, belting out a showcase of projection to “Fly Me to the Moon” before he took his final bow that night.
The amount of passion Tony Bennett has dedicated to his art has only strengthened with the years, and like the glass he held up through much of the last bit of his set, his performance was just as much as a toast to him as it was to the fans. Tony Bennett live is just as much history as it is poetry in motion and the embodiment of the fact that “the music never ends.”
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