YES, IT'S TRUE. The voice isn't what it was, but then that's not exactly news. They've been saying that for years, and for good reason. Once in a while, the voice will break or the notes will fizzle, but when Frank Sinatra sings "My Way" and "New York, New York," he's in great shape. When he isn't, his fans don't mind.
This, after all, is a living institution, the Chairman of the Board who has been working for more than five decades in show business. When he is on stage, he isn't just Frank Sinatra, 75-year-old veteran of movies, television and the concert stage. He is Frank Sinatra, superstar, a man who brings all those years of memory, all those songs, along with him. It takes control not to sing along with him, all through the act.
Of course, his fans cover the spectrum. The capacity audience at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last evening ranged from the late 20s to early 60s, and don't let anyone tell you they were not enthusiastic.
It was hot, sticky hot, but that didn't stop the faithful from appearing and applauding.
These were people who gave "Ol' Blue Eyes" a standing ovation when he made his first appearance. Some stood after every song, then at the end, the entire audience stood again. They truly love the man. In their eyes, he can do no wrong. The voice may not be what it was, but then whose is?
Sinatra was preceded by Corbett Monica, who looks no older than he did when he was a familiar television face, back in the days when the variety show reigned, back when Ed Sullivan had a lock on the Sunday evening schedule.
Monica did about 23 minutes of jokes. Some were new, and some were old, but all were good to hear. You may have heard the one about the frog who turned into a prince, but they're good jokes, and the way Monica tells them, are still good to hear.
Some jokes are like wine. They age well, and so has Monica, who also does Polish, Jewish and Italian jokes, none of which is likely to offend. "I use Sinatra whenever I can," he said.
The star did 15 numbers, among them, "The Lady is a Tramp" and "Summer Wind." He also did "My Boy Bill," the soliloquy from "Carousel," which goes on and on and is not all that interesting. It may be, however, the only dull number the man does.
Among his better selections are "You Make Me Feel So Young," "Where or When" and "Rain or Shine."
He sounds best when he sings the faster songs and holds the shorter notes. It is when he has to hold those longer notes that he sounds less strong than he did.
Several years back, when he appeared at the Kennedy Center, Sinatra was almost disdainful when some of his fans began to squeal, the way they did back in the early '40s when he worked the Paramount, in New York. Today, they don't squeal, but they do declare their love for the man, and last evening, he just paid no attention to all this. He simply ignored the remarks that were shouted at him and continued with the songs as though he had heard nothing. That's the better way of handling this sort of thing.
Frank Sinatra Jr. was leading the orchestra. "His mother told me to find him a job," said his father. "He was just hanging around the house."
Toward the end of the evening, Sinatra said he was toasting all the audience. He said that he hoped we would all live to be 575 years old and that the last voice we hear would be his.
There are worse ways of going. When you hear the voice, when you hear those songs, the mind travels back, over the years, back to the time when the 25-year-old with the wavy hair and the bow tie sang about having "All or Nothing at All" or never smiling again.
When it comes to adulation, the man has had it all, and for all those 75 years, still looks pretty darn good. The eyes are as blue and bright as ever.
He is still drinking on stage. At first, he says it is water. Later, he says it is a bit stronger. His other concert signature, however, the cigarette, has about disappeared from his act. During his 80 minutes on stage, he lit only one but didn't inhale.
PD Was it all worth $50? If you're a Sinatra fan, it certainly was.
Sinatra's songs last night:
"You Make Me Feel So Young"
"For Once In My Life"
"Come Rain or Shine"
"The Lady is a Tramp"
"Where or When"
"The House I Live In" (That's America to Me)
"My Heart Stood Still"
"There's Barbara" (To his wife, Barbara)
"The Best Is Yet to Come"
"My Bill" ("Soliloquy")
"Mack the Knife"
"I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry"
& "New York, New York"