Melodious marathon: Tony Bennett’s concert a heavenly night for music lovers

By Logan A. White
Times-News correspondent

   DURHAM — Sunday evening ended on a high note — and what a heavenly night it had been. Legendary vocalist Tony Bennett serenaded an awe-struck audience at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). The concert was a family affair. His daughter, Antonia Bennett, opened with a short but sweet set of songs that showcased her clear voice, a unique instrument with hints of both experience and naïveté.
But when the star of the show stepped onto the stage — after a recorded introduction by the late Frank Sinatra — the audience leapt to its feet in roaring anticipation, cheering with unabashed enthusiasm in the first of many standing ovations. Grinning from ear-to-ear, Bennett began what would be a melodious marathon of crowd favorites and old classics. Belting out hot, jazzy numbers like “I Got Rhythm” and “Sing You Sinners,” he flaunted his youthful side while alternating the crackling energy with quieter, reflective tunes. The blissful response of the audience was audible when he began the opening lyrics of “The Way You Look Tonight,” accompanied only by soft electric guitar in a bittersweet, thoughtful rendition of the classic. “(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco” and “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)“ were also crowd-pleasing classics, both sung with an air of familiar appreciation.
   Bennett seemed to thoroughly enjoy the performance, making a sly political jest and even sneaking in a smooth little dance during ”The Shadow Of Your Smile.” The most remarkable feature, however, was his voice, which has aged like fine wine, gradually settling and ripening until it achieves near perfection. Even at 90, Bennett is still clearly in his prime, singing for nearly an hour and a half with incredible stamina and vocal capacity.
His love for both the music and his fellow musicians was evident throughout the concert as he showed off the talent and timbre of his quartet. Each musician merely had to caress his or her instrument, and melodies sprang to life, robust with the effortless and exotic blue notes of jazz. But as the night drew to a close, Bennett set aside the music, laid down the microphone, and, leaning against the grand piano, ended the show in the purest way possible. With a twinkling smile, the legend sent his voice to the farthest corners of the theater, singing the simple tune of ”Fly Me To The Moon” with such resonance and elegance that even the stars themselves paused to listen to a voice that will continue to soar to heavenly heights — the voice of Mr. Tony Bennett.

Logan A. White is a home-schooled high school junior and a Teens & 20s writer.

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