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REVIEW: Tony Bennett Rocks the Orpheum (Hennepin Theatre Trust)

The legendary singer Tony Bennett. Photo by Larry Busacca.

Nonagenarian or not, Tony Bennett has a lot of living and singing to do. During last night’s concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, the 92-year-old singer delighted fans young and old. The music was an engaging set of classic jazz and popular songs from the American songbook. He showcased his trademark vocal style, engrossing stage presence, and consummate showmanship that had the audience leaning into every little gesture and inflection.

The evening began with a lively opening number by the Tony Bennett Quartet, followed by a featured set of songs with Antonia Bennett (Tony’s daughter) on vocals. Then Tony took the stage, and the hall erupted in the first of many rounds of rapturous applause. While age has certainly shaped his performance, Tony is still giving lots of A game. The larger compass of his movements was more limited than a spry gent of middle age, but the gestures he elected were crisp, precise, and elegantly shaping of the music.

Sunday’s concert unfolded with no breaks and no intermission, aside from a few moments when the lights came up and the audience bounced to its feet applauding (and shouting out praise) at the end of songs. Many of Tony’s selections were a little tongue-in-cheek, occasioning chuckles as a snatches of songs and lyrics were recognized (e.g., “let the music play as long as there’s a song to sing, and I will stay younger than Spring” in the song “This Is All I Ask”). If many were short, with only a single verse sung before the quartet morphed the sound into another song, no one seemed to mind.

The big finish? “Fly Me to the Moon”. It was obvious that the audience was hanging in the heavens already to hear Tony Bennett & co. perform.

Basil Considine