Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga rock Radio City Music Hall in bravura birthday show

Tony Bennett sang to two packed houses Aug. 3 and 5, capping a two-night concert celebration of his 95th birthday, attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton and 12,000 loyal fans. His pal and collaborator, Lady Gaga introduced the legendary singer. Both are native New Yorkers.


Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga are promoting their
second CD, "Love for Sale," out October 1.


Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett are both Cole
Porter fans. Their new  is album "Love For Sale."
and courtesy Streamline Columbia Records

THE CROWD WAS emotional.  The cast was, too. Two glitzy birthday concerts this week were an unadulterated love fest for Tony Bennett, born Anthony Dominick Benedetto 95 years ago on Aug. 3.

Christene "Cookie" Meyers, Bruce
Keller head for orchestra seats, 
His "farewell concerts" with Lady Gaga were a pair of shows like no others. They were an emotional good-bye -- an affectionate "arrivederci," from the second-generation Italian New Yorker, son of a grocer and seamstress. And it was our chance to salute him.
HE SANG US a tuneful Valentine, a gift to his legions of fans. The love came full circle with two dozen standing ovations, cheers, whistles and a spontaneous singing of "Happy Birthday" to the beloved performer, with Lady Gaga leading the serenade. 
The packed houses were two sold-out evening at Radio City Music Hall. They were well organized, despite the crush of 6,000 eager people jostling to buy souvenir t-shirts and cocktails before taking expensive seats to begin a hit parade of American jazz classics.

Hilton Club New York offers fabulous Midtown
proximity to theaters, restaurants, museums.

 was mandatory at the door even before tickets were scanned.  Cell phones were put into "yondr pockets," little sealed packages to prevent the use of technology during the show. (We have an arsenal of Gaga-Tony photos from four previous concerts; and happily, we were able to take photos before and after.)

Radio City Music Hall was jammed with Tony Bennett fans
and admirers of Lady Gaga, for their sold-out concert.

THE EVENINGS  were a smash three-part hit -- with Gaga offering a generous one-hour set and entertaining commentary (including a shout-out to her friends Bill and Hillary Clinton).  Then she introduced "the great man, the amazing talent, my friend, my mentor -- the guy you've been waiting to see and hear:  Mr. Tony Bennett." Bennett's set was stellar, backed by his longtime jazz quartet. "Just in Time," "Stardust," "Steppin' Out With My Baby" and more. Then the duo sang five songs to end the show, hits from their "Cheek to Cheek" CD, which won a Grammy. Bennett offered a bravura encore, his signature "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." The crowd leapt to its feet for the 25th time.
Lady Gaga introduces Tony Bennett, her good friend and
collaborator on a new album, "Love for Sale.
THE STAR-studded evening featured royalty on both sides of the footlights with VIP guests including the Clintons and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The performers also previewed their new Cole Porter album, out soon. 
Gov. Cuomo declared Aug. 3 “Tony Bennett Day” in New York, tweeting "Few have contributed more to music and arts in New York than Tony.”

BEHIND Bennett's jazz quintet, a full string orchestra graced the stage of the stately 1932 art-deco theater, brainchild of millionaire John D. Rockefeller and cornerstone of Rockefeller Center.

 Gaga charmed the crowd with her repartee, looking both elegant and slinky, changing costumes three times (including one made by her gifted designer sister), bowing gracefully and kissing Tony before and after his set after reeling out a dozen solo favorites of her own to warm up the happy crowd.

BATTLING Alzheimer's for the past five years, Bennett capped his illustrious 85-year career with favorites from his enduring repertoire. He and Gaga, also a New Yorker, have been bravely creating the new CD in their hometown for two years, despite his diagnosis.  
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga,
both New Yorkers, have a long
bond and deep friendship.

 Young Tony sang at the opening of the Triborough Bridge in 1936 when he was 10 years old, so the evening brought the Long Island born singer's career full circle to a hometown crowd.

PREVIEW their new CD and get out the hankies 


Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga offer a pair of "One Last Time"
concerts this week celebrating a new CD coming out soon.

WE BOOKED our tickets the day they went on sale two weeks ago, and planned a New York trip around the concert,  knowing that this might be our last time to see Bennett. Lucky "east coasters" though, have other chances. Bennett has scheduled a handful of solo concerts on the east coast, into October. (No west coast gigs, sadly for us.) Check Ticketmaster for details.

Booking your stay: go to and plug in the property of choice. There are many Hilton brand options in New York. We have enjoyed Hilton Club New York, New York Hilton Midtown, Hilton Times Square, The Quin and many other Hilton brand properties.

Carrie Krause introduces a program of baroque treats
in Columbus, Montana, at Community Congregational Church
UP NEXT: From Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett and jazz, to period music and the unusual repertoire and musical instruments of the period from 1600 to 1750.  We feature the upcoming schedule of a gifted ensemble, Baroque Music Montana.  The group offers musical treats  on tap and on tour in Montana.  We took in a concert recently and share the talents of this fabulous, precise quartet of talents playin period music of long ago. Meanwhile, enjoy, learn and live and catch us each week for a fresh spin on the arts, travel, nature, family and more:


  1. Manhattan Music LoversAugust 4, 2021 at 6:19 PM

    What fun! Lovely that you can see this legendary singer in his twilight, and still shining.

  2. Connecticut JazzersAugust 5, 2021 at 5:43 AM

    Wonderful, exciting story and photos. We hope to catch one of his solo acts but love that you saw him with Gaga again.