by Doug MacGunnigle, WPRO
Tony Bennett commanded the stage Wednesday night at a packed Providence Performing Arts Center, accompanied by his ace quartet of musicians.
Bennett, at 91, (and sounding like a man 30 years younger) easily floated through his 75 minute set, performing a generous selection of the standards he’s made famous over the past 60+ years.
He started the set off tentatively, but his voice steadily improved throughout the evening. With no stool or chair in sight, Bennett only briefly rested against the piano while one of his band members took a solo.
Highlights included a swinging “Stepping Out with My Baby,” an uptempo take on Sinatra’s late night drinking song “One For My Baby (And One More for the Road,)” and a crowd-pleasing “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” that earned one of several standing ovations throughout the evening.
Bennett had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout the evening, garnering laughter from the crowd as he sang the opening lines from “This Is All I Ask” (“As I approach the prime of my life…”) and rousing applause as he broke into some dance moves at several points during the show.
The evening began with an instrumental tune from Bennett’s tight backing band, consisting of piano, electric guitar, upright bass, and drums. Throughout the show, each player showed off his skills during several solo sections.
Bennett’s daughter, Antonia Bennett, followed with several politely received standards, but her voice never quite clicked during the performance.
It’s impossible not to view Bennett’s performance through the lens of a 91 year old man, but he delivered at the level you would expect from an man decades younger. It begs the question, is 90 the new 60?