Photos: Tony Bennett at Denver Botanic Gardens - Reverb

Tony Bennett at Denver Botanic Gardens, 6-19-13 (photos, review)

Tony Bennett is 86, but he’s still got a showman’s tricks. On one of the year’s longest nights, a singer with one of the longest careers seduced a classy crowd with his yesteryear voice.

The debonaire Bennett and his band transformed Denver Botanic Gardens into Denver Botanic Lounge on Wednesday. He greeted the audience with courteous familiarity: “Thanks for stopping by this evening.”

Mosquito hawks patrolled the grassy amphitheater as Bennett crooned throwback show tunes, classic hits, even a Hank Williams song. Bennett still possesses his unmistakable voice. And if occasionally his pipes sound a bit rusty around the edges, it’s understandable: “I’ve been singing for 50 years. I love it!” he said, then added, “I’ll be honest, it’s 60 years!”

Despite summer’s heat, Bennett and his polished quartet wore jackets and ties. The suave legend commented on a dramatic piano solo: “With all the rock and roll you hear today, it’s nice to hear a piano.”

Bennett did a duet with his daughter, Antonia Bennett, who opened for him. The two even tossed in a few dance steps.

And when he sang “The Way You Look Tonight” almost a cappella (except for a few electric guitar riffs), Bennett’s voice was so hushed that one could hear the pop of wine corks.

“I Left My Heart in San Francisco”—a song Bennett said changed his life—filled the makeshift dance floor.

“I only sing old songs,” Bennett said. “That’s because I don’t like the new ones.” Everybody knows Tony Bennett is a gentleman, but did you know he’s a veteran? He acknowledged a man holding a sign indicating his military regiment. “I was there with him in France and Germany,” Bennett said.

As Bennett left his fans, the mostly old and older concertgoers cheered the strains of a bygone era.

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Colleen Smith, a longtime contributor to The Denver Post, is the author of “Glass Halo”—a novel set in Denver–and “Laid-Back Skier,” both by Friday Jones Publishing.

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Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.