It was one of this summer’s most beautiful nights – balmy, but not too humid, warm, but with a perfect light breeze and clear enough to see a host of stars overhead. Ravinia’s lawn was filled with picnickers – some which did things simple with just a blanket, maybe a chair or two, a few snacks and a bottle of wine, and some who set up grand displays with candlelit tables, dining ware, goblets and a feast large enough to feed a small army. Of course this occurs on most nights at Highland Park's Ravinia, but this was not most nights – this was Tony Bennett’s birthday - his 85th!
To get things started, Tony’s daughter, Antonia Bennett came out to do a short set. The tall redhead quickly proved that she was not riding on her father’s coattails, showing off her own dynamic voice.
The entire crowd took to their feet as Tony Bennett then took the stage in his white lounge jacket, blue tie and blue slacks. As Tony went into song, the cheers accelerated and the cries of "I love you, Tony" and "Happy Birthday, Tony" were heard. Looking robust, tanned and as healthy as an ox, Tony played a variety of favorites including "The Best is Yet to Come", "The Way You Look Tonight", "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and "Fly Me to the Moon", which he dedicated to the people on the lawn.
Tony was indeed the legend we know him as. His voice was strong and his timing was that of perfection. Smiling his way through the energized set, the crowd erupted in a handful of standing ovations to honor the great star. Antonia even joined her father for a duet in which the two exchanged a few dance moves.
As classy as Tony was, his band certainly held their own and more. Featuring greats such as Harold Jones on drums, Gary Sargent on guitar, Marshall Wood on stand up bass and Lee Musiker on piano, this was a performance to cherish – a performance, and picture-perfect setting, that made a magical evening.