Old Blue Eyes offers drama, jokes and a few off notes--but why fuss?


There are basically two ways to review a concert like the one given by Frank Sinatra last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

One is to take the fan's viewpoint, and that works very well with Sinatra.

After all, if you listen with your memory more than your ears, it's easy to let nostalgia filter out the few bum notes and off-key phrases.

Or you could take the critical approach, and discount all that celebrity baloney.

Instead, what you look at are the notes -- did he hit them cleanly? Did he stay on pitch? -- and judge the show strictly in terms of its musical merit.

In other words, be fair, and be objective.

Except that objectivity isn't entirely fair to Sinatra. Sure, his voice isn't what it used to be; it isn't even what it was last time around.

He sang flat throughout the show, from the final chorus of "You Make Me Feel So Young" to the last notes of "New York, New York," wobbled way off pitch in "Where or When" and barely hit half the notes in "For Once in My Life."

Even the show's strongest moments, like his reading of "Soliloquy" (from "Carousel") depended more on his dramatic gifts than his musical ability.

To fuss over such flaws, though, makes it seem as if the show was a failure, and that was hardly the case.

Some songs, like "My Way," were near perfect; his sense of showmanship remained undiminished; and his wit is as wicked as ever (he even slipped a reefer joke into "The Best Is Yet to Come").

Which is why, though it was hardly a perfect concert, only a fool would have felt cheated.

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