When Appellate Judge James A. Stewart sings to live people, they flee screaming.
Our reviews of Frank Sinatra: Concert For The Americas (published November 27th, 2010), Frank Sinatra: The Frank Sinatra Shows (published September 17th, 2008), and Frank Sinatra: The Man And The Myth (published March 24th, 2005) are also available.
"There's nothing like singing to live people, baby. It's great."—Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra's not really gone. A look at IMDb shows that his songs have been featured recently on television (So You Think You Can Dance) and in movies (The Bounty Hunter).
Yeah, I wish I could have heard Frank Sinatra performing live in concert sometime. Looking at the empty seats (there aren't any) at the televised concerts in Frank Sinatra: Around the World, I can tell that just wasn't to be. Still, it's possible to approximate the experience. Some of his concerts were broadcast on television, and are available on DVD.
Where does Frank Sinatra go in Frank Sinatra: Around the World? Los Angeles, New York, London, and Japan. The four concerts span 1970 to 1985. The accompanying booklet suggests that only two—Ol' Blue Eyes is Back and Sinatra: The Main Event—have been screened on U.S. television, so there's something new here even for longtime fans.
Facts of the Case
Frank Sinatra: Around the World includes four televised concerts:
Ol' Blue Eyes is Back (from 1973) features the following songs:
Sinatra: The Main Event (from 1973) finds him singing on live
television from Madison Square Garden, with Howard Cosell announcing. Songs
Sinatra in Concert at Royal Festival Hall (from 1970) is a London
concert introduced by Princess Grace of Monaco. Songs include:
Sinatra in Japan: Live at the Budokan Hall, Tokyo (from 1985)
features seventeen songs:
Frank Sinatra doesn't sing exactly the same playlist each time, but you'd better like "My Kind of Town," "The Lady is a Tramp," and "I Get a Kick Out of You," since he does them a lot. Fortunately, he does variations each time, once even mentioning Yokohama in "My Kind of Town" (he switches back to Chicago by the end, though). You'll notice, if you watch these in a marathon session, that he tries to make things fresh each time out, changing moods or tempos so that a classic is something new for a live performance.
Sinatra fans will probably like any concert set that gives them the chance to see the Chairman of the Board perform before a live audience. Two concerts make this set the one to choose. Ol' Blue Eyes is Back is more intimate than the others in the collection, and it provides a career retrospective, starting with older songs like "I Get a Kick Out of You," moving into his mid-career wistfulness with mature songs like "Last Night When We Were Young," and sampling his then-new album with "Let Me Try Again" and "Send in the Clowns." He jokes around a lot about his advanced age, especially in "We Can't Do That Anymore," a duet with Gene Kelly, who still has a few tap moves. The lighting and occasional sets aid that sense of intimacy; the studio is often darkened to make it feel like he's alone. Sinatra in Japan collects a lot of favorites in one place, including his first hit, "All or Nothing at All," and his favorite song, "Come Rain or Come Shine." The accompanying booklet tells me that it's a rarity that collectors have been trying to find for years. If you could only see one Sinatra concert on DVD in your life, either one of these would be a good choice, and they're here together.
The other concerts in the set show that even (or perhaps even more) in his later years, he knew how to work a crowd. You'll see audience members singing along to "The Lady is a Tramp" and "My Kind of Town" in Sinatra: The Main Event. Rimshots from the orchestra help him make "Tramp" a joyous number in Sinatra in Concert at Royal Festival Hall.
Picture quality is good for video, with the occasional ripple or other flaw. Sound quality is good, if unspectacular. A booklet provides playlists and background on the concerts.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The concerts are great, but you'll wish for more in the way of photos or biographical information to put Frank Sinatra's life in perspective.
If you want to see (or recall) what Frank Sinatra was like in front of an audience, Frank Sinatra: Around the World does the job. Better yet, it includes a retrospective that boils his career down to an hour and a concert that you're almost certain not to have seen.
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