A fresh and slightly rainy evening welcomed those, who decided to attend Copenhagen Jazz Festival’s 2015 most thrilling event – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s swing concert. The public started gathering already around 6 p.m. at the muddy field of Plaenen outdoor stage at Tivoli Amusement Park.
A couple of seconds after 22 the first sounds came from the stage and it was no one else but Mr Frank Sinatra announcing “the world’s best singer Tony Bennett” from the historical recording. Soon after that the 88-year old “cat” and his 59 years younger stage companion, pop megastar Lady Gaga entered the stage. Starting with 2 duets the couple put the audience on fire right away.
First to notice was the musical set-up, since unlike expected by some, the stars were accompanied by two separate rhythm sections plus 1 trumpet, 1 tenor sax and even Hammond organ. With this repertoire a full size big band would seem more than accurate and to our big-band-loving ears it seemed like there was maybe something missing on the musical side… Yet the fine combination of musicians, with Mr Harold Jones on drums on Bennett’s side gave a well swinging, top class, thrilling and tight back up to the stars.
As Lady Gaga said, she’s used to taking off her clothes on stage and to some of the fans it may appear surprising, that she was not going to do it last night. That’s because last night she was going to sing JAZZ. And so she did in her revue-intense, colorful and dramatic appearances, shouting out powerful phrases in well swinging manner with the electricity known from the hits of the top jazz divas. Delivering songs of this caliber she was still able to flirt with her young audience, that loves her mainly as a pop star and comment back on multiple inserts coming from the crowd in the musical pauses. The one insert hard to comment on was however the clock bells of the City Hall announcing 23, which interrupted her interpretation of “Lush Life”, initially build on a vocal presentation with long breaks. Here the clock forced itself into a duet, giving Gaga some consequences to deal with.
At another moment she appeared in the iconic pink Marilyn Monroe styled dress to sing… Edith Piaf’s “La vie en rose”, which was not the most expected result of her metamorphosis. Yet the outfit could be considered the best of the ones presented during the evening, leaving her see-through, burlesque inspired, yet obvious and exaggerated dresses far behind. (One could only imagine what Gaga’s version of Monroe’s hit show could be like and that vision is actually far more tempting than her tatooed body squeezed into the neglige-like outfits).
While the young spirit was discussing the melodies with the history of jazz, the history of jazz itself was standing right next to it, taking a trip back into his own and also Sinatra’s hits. A little bit shady in the beginning, Bennett caught the energy after a couple of songs to deliver well composed interpretations. His swing feeling, humor and show talent were breathtaking, especially while taking into account his age. His voice’s “wrinkles” were well compensated with his vocal tactics and covered in an elegant way. Tight, light and funny were the solo blocks by Mr Bennett, who was getting the signs of huge appreciation from the public many times during his numbers.
The most significant observation was that standing in the crowd of mostly young people one could hear them singing along songs like “I Won’t Dance”, “The Lady Is A Trump”, “Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered” and many other swing standards. The value of this artistic cooperation and especially Lady Gaga’s contribution to bringing the swing music to the pop scene and young generations is actually priceless.
The advantage of the events with standing public is that you actually always get standing ovation… but it was well deserved in this particular case. And soon after the long final applause ended, started the long and heavy rain.