Reviews: Pop: Andy Williams

Andy Williams
Festival Hall, London

It seems the world has forgiven Andy Williams for giving The Osmonds their first big break on his TV show, and has embraced him as the latest postmodern icon to be salvaged from a previous generation. Williams is no longer the crooner cast into the shade by Sinatra or Tony Bennett, he is the emperor of easy, grooved to by hipsters slurping banana daiquiris in Islington lofts.

If you judged this performance objectively, you'd have to point out that the pitch of his voice was unstable, often flailing around alarmingly in search of the right key. You might add that Andy's habit of clipping some of his best-known songs short, not least the majestic Can't Get Used To Losing You, is no way for an easy-listening icon to treat a revered back catalogue. And the dance routine by James and Cathy Taylor, while Andy went off for a breather, was like a hideous flashback to Atlantic City in 1960.

But the man has a sense of occasion. It's not often that you see a bloke accompanied by an 11-piece band dressed in matching black-and-red outfits, like staff at a garish Las Vegas casino. Dinky Andy bounces around the stage as though in search of a vaulting-horse to leap over, though at the age of 73 this wouldn't be wise. There was even a comedy interlude, where Andy showed us clips of himself in his movie I'd Rather Be Rich, with old Andy electronically inserted alongside the young Andy of 1964.

He waltzed through Our Love Is Here To Stay, and looked chipper in Call Me Irresponsible. Days of Wine and Roses and Moon River were heard fleetingly, and if Williams has no more chance than anybody else of making sense of Jimmy Webb's lyrics to MacArthur Park, he managed to hit some impressive high notes. Advancing boldly into the late 20th century, he made a decent stab at Every Breath You Take, and managed a moderately majestic Desperado. We will never see his like again, or so the publicity says.

• At Southend Cliffs Pavilion (01702 351135), tonight; Fairfield Hall, Croydon (020-8688 9291), tomorrow; Anvil, Basingstoke, Wednesday (01256 844244); then tours.


Adam Sweeting

The GuardianTramp

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