Friday, April 17, 2015

Touched by greatness: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga deliver wondrous performance

Legendary singer Tony Bennett and the gifted Lady Gaga collaborate to the delight of a full house recently in Las Vegas. Our artful team saw the show, following the "modern vintage" collaboration.  

"I call her "firefly" 'cause oh, my. She radiates moon glow. Wants none of that noon glow. She starts to glitter when the sun goes down 'Bout 8 p.m., it's mayhem........."
--from "Firefly," sung recently by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga to a standing ovation Las Vegas audience

If Cookie cries for joy, the concert
or play makes her "tops" list.


IT WAS MOON GLOW, not mayhem when Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett charmed us last weekend. Everything was in order.
SO MANY fantastic plays and concerts I've seen in my lucky life.
I started a "Top Ten" list about 30 years ago.  It changes as I see and evaluate several hundred shows each year.
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's fabulous, flawless performance made the list.  When a show makes me cry for joy, it's in.
Tony Bennett, a frisky 88, still has the pipes, folks, and a sense of fun.
Here he twirls Lady Gaga around in a packed house at Axis Theater, Vegas.
Lady Gaga goes solo for several songs
with the best band a singer could have.
EACH SHOW on my list reminds me of how precious it is to be in the company of greatness. True genius touches one's life only on rare occasions. The greats remain in my heart and mind --so Tony and Gaga join stellar memories of:
* FRANK SINATRA crooning at the old Sands Hotel, with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., accompanied by Count Basie in the Copa Room.
* Mary Martin washing that man right out of her hair in "South Pacific" on Broadway. The audience wouldn't stop cheering.
* Patti Lupone as Mama Rose in Gypsy.  She stopped the show with a standing ovation for "Everything's Coming Up Roses."
*Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou taking their fifth curtain call in "Sweeney Todd," to cheers and thunderous applause.
NOW, ADD to my "tops" list the incomparable Tony Bennett and the sublime Lady Gaga.
Did I weep?  You bet.  Through nearly the entire concert.
Saying good-bye:  Bennett and Gaga leave the floor
at the Axis in Planet Hollywood, to raves and cheers.
Don't be wary at the 60-year age gap.  (Bennett is a spry and handsome 88 and Gaga is a sophisticated, flirty 28.)  The two are fast friends and exciting collaborators.
We've seen them twice since we reveled in their sold-out New Year's Eve show at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.  We bought tickets in March for their recent two-day gig at Planet Hollywood's Axis Theater, also in Las Vegas.
The show was stunning, an immediate "tops" on a list formed from more than 5,000 plays and concerts enjoyed in my lifetime.
full of life and love. It's obvious the two love and respect one another's great gifts as they honor Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Gershwin. Soulful phrasing, fabulous arrangements and the world's finest musicians make an irresistible combination.
Fabulous Indian fare in Bay Area bistro, click here
I FIRST heard of the unique collaboration in a New Yorker story. I'd seen Bennett and Gaga in separate concerts -- loved both for their style, flair and precision.  He asked her to record a duet on a favorite album, "Duets II," and in 2011, they recorded “Lady Is a Tramp” then a full album, "Cheek to Cheek," also the name of their ambitious tour.
 I love the collaboration. She keeps him youthful.  He adds to her elegance. Their arrangements are
Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Sinatra
in the Copa Room of the old Sands Hotel,
imploded to make room for the Venetian.
timeless.  If a CD can wear out, mine will soon.  "Cheek to Cheek" goes with us -- it's been to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Middle East since its top debut on Billboard's Hot 100.  I cried (of course) when it won a Grammy for best traditional pop vocals. I was thrilled to hear “But Beautiful,” "I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” and “I Won’t Dance” on this tour.
EACH ARTIST takes turns performing solo, so Lady Gaga can change into a half-dozen costumes.
While she's becoming a sultry blonde or sexy redhead, Bennett croons classics like “The Good Life,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Sing You Sinners” and his signature "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."  Gaga sings jazz standards including “Bang Bang,” Billy Strayhorn's beautiful “Lush Life” and a bouncy “Firefly,” which Bennett joins. (BTW: Tony is happily married for years.) A crystal-studded curtain and fabulous orchestra set the show's glittery tone.
HERE ARE others on my "Top Ten" list of concerts and performances (okay, I know it's more than 10; I can't cross anyone else off.) 
*Bette Middler at Caesar's in a torchy show of non-stop fun and emotion.
* Ian McKellan and Tim Curry, brilliant in "Amadeus" in New York. 
Dustin Hoffman as Shylock in "The Merchant
of Venice" (Geraldine Page was Portia.) 
*Dustin Hoffman in "The Merchant of Venice" in London, delivering a deeply moving performance.
*"Death of a Salesman" -- of 15 performances, most memorable were the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Beijing, China, with the playwright directing. No dry eyes at Linda's graveside eulogy on either continent.
*The original Broadway version of "Les Miserables."
*"Agnes of God" with Amanda Plummer.
*Elton John, who tore up Caesar's with his lavish "Million Dollar Piano" production.
 *Childhood productions of "The King and I" and "South Pacific" and "My Fair Lady."
 (If only I'd seen Judy Garland at the Palladium in London in 1963. I cherish the double album.)
Cookie Meyers and Bruce Keller (Cookie and Keller)
on the town and about to dance cheek to cheek.
WHO KNOWS how many shows Tony Bennett has in him.  Years more, if the music gods deem.
Meanwhile, he's dipping from the fountain of youth, touring the world with his "Lady." We'll catch them often as we can -- in London at the Royal Albert Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl. Who knows, maybe we'll be invited to her wedding. She's asked Tony to sing! Psst: Have I mentioned I play a mean piano?

CATCH US where at lilianslast dance each weekend for updates on the best in concerts, plays, art and books -- with our unique twist -- at  And follow the novel by the same name here, too.
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  1. Wow. What an incredible, informed artistic life this writer has had, and I think she's a long way from her final curtain.
    Bravo. A delight to read. We are from England, visiting arts loving friends in California and planning to see the show in L.A. in May.

  2. Wow. What an incredible, informed artistic life this writer has had, and I think she's a long way from her final curtain.
    Bravo. A delight to read. We are from England, visiting arts loving friends in California and planning to see the show in L.A. in May.

  3. Huge Gaga fan. This makes me want to see her with Tony Bennett, a favorite singer of my parents. Maybe the three of us will catch the tour.

  4. Devoted to the oldiesApril 21, 2015 at 6:53 PM

    This is a moving story -- moved me seeing how the performance moved her. I, too, saw the Rat Pack in the old Sands and was there the day they imploded it to make way for the Venetian. Fun story.

  5. Took my date to Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett the same night these entertainment writers saw the show in Planet Hollywood. Wonderful report on a mesmerizing concert. My girlfriend loves Gaga and I am a
    Tony Bennett fan from way back, listening to my parents' records. What a pair to draw to! And a fun read.