“Do you get tired of making love?” That’s Tony Bennett‘s quick-witted response when asked in interviews if he ever gets tired of singing the same signature songs night after night.
His philosophy on his music, albeit simple and a little crass, sums up the Tony Bennett concert experience.
The 86-year-old Bennett performed at the Denver Botanic Gardens on Tuesday evening and will do the same on Wednesday. Most likely he’ll play the same songs again.
“People ask me why I play old songs. Because I don’t like the new ones!” joked Bennett to the Denver crowd sprawled out on blankets on green grass as the sun disappeared behind the front range.
Bennett loves the music. He loves the song writers. He loves a song that never ages. The consummate entertainer, Bennett effortlessly moves the performance forward. He even throws in a few dance moves and most songs are ended with a palm’s out open embrace to the audience.
Themes of hope and self-discovery run throughout Bennett’s set list that included “Maybe This Time,” “For Once in My Life” and “The Good Life.” He then dedicated “The Good Life” to Lady GaGa, whom he will be recording an album with in the coming weeks.
Bennett has always paired up with great musical talent throughout his career, so he took time out of the show to thank jazz pianist Ralph Sharon. Sharon, who has worked with him for more than 40 years, is credited for finding all Bennett’s signature hits. Most notably, he convinced Bennett to cover “I left my Heart in San Francisco.” That song became a gold record for Bennett and won him a Grammy for record of the year in 1962. On Tuesday after he played the award-winning song, Bennett encouraged his Denver fans to catch the Ralph Sharon Trio who performs frequently at Dazzel and at the St. Julien in Boulder every Saturday.
The show concluded at just under an hour with his daughter Antonia Bennett warming up the crowd for the first 15 mins. The crowd rose off their blankets and cheered as Bennett ended with Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” and rolled into the 1920s sing along “When Your Smiling” made famous by Louis Armstrong.
Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.
John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.