Sunday, November 8, 2015

Paul Anka Concert Review

There Will Be Music

It took Paul Anka all of 30 seconds to bring the house down at the Music Center at Strathmore last night. A full house, mind you... but no match for the most virile 74-year-old man on Earth, and his opening number, "You Are My Destiny." One can only imagine how Anka musters all his energy; but if there's another performer out there with half as much passion & intensity as the legendary Canadian singer and composer, I've yet to see (or hear) them.

Concert Review

Hurricane Anka strolled down the aisle at 8:00 sharp, charming the Strathmore faithful with kisses, hugs & selfies, "Take all (the photos) you want, it doesn't bother me," before unleashing a score of familiar hits and tributes (Sammy Davis Jr. = memorable.) Anka's musical catalog is impressive, but his still-booming voice admittedly caught me off guard. I thought Tony Bennett was amazing (and he is, of course) but Anka practically puts him to shame (with seemingly no end in sight.)

Think about it: He's been at this for 57 years (he playfully admits he started when he was six.) But he belted out classic tunes such as "For Once In My Life" and "(You're) Having My Baby" with incredible ease. His playful rendition of "Mack the Knife" came this close to matching Bobby Darin's; and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" secured one of a half-dozen standing ovations.

In between, Anka peppered the crowd with one-liners and funny stories, "There was a lot of PMS in my house (he has five daughters.) PMS stands for Paul must suffer." Then there's audience participation. Anka spent a lot of time on the floor with his adoring fans, dancing with some, kissing others and wowing everyone else. He sang "Lonely Boy" atop a (temporarily) empty seat in the center orchestra. I jotted down, "I've never seen anyone like him ever" in my notebook, right before he modestly remarked, "This (performing) isn't work: It's love and pleasure. (I'm) 74 and still love doing it."

Anka performed for almost two hours without intermission, and never once seemed to tire. He played guitar and piano, and sang his heart out; yet his final trio of ""Let Me Try Again," "My Way" (two songs written for Frank Sinatra) and Anka's trademark "Diana" packed even more gusto than his opening salvos. He promised to return (assuming good health) and it goes without saying, they'll be another full house waiting to be wowed (again.) Myself included.