Review: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga at Royal Albert Hall, London (08/06/15)

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Arriving onto stage to the recorded sound of Frank Sinatra introducing him to a crowd, Tony Bennett sauntered in to astounding applause before introducing one of the most “popular” people in music, Lady Gaga. All in support of WellChild, a charity which supports sick children and one that Prince Harry is a patron of (who attended the Bennett and Gaga gig), the evening began with Bennett and Gaga’s lead single, ‘Anything Goes’, from their collaborative jazz album, Cheek to Cheek.

After this, the pair infused their various duets with solo performances. It began with Gaga escaping the stage for an elaborate quick change where a few Bennett-only songs later, she graced the stage with another stunning ballgown. Throughout the evening, she kept a blonde wig but her dresses ranged from a Charleston-inspired number to a revealing ruby dress. During these changes, Tony Bennett casually stood by a piano where he sang an array of jazz hits. Although not as chatty as Gaga, Bennett dripped a few jokes into his performance, most notably when he urged audiences to purchase the Cheek to Cheek album because Gaga really “needs the money”.

There was also time for Bennett to rest his astoundingly 88 year-old legs when Gaga came back on stage between changes to perform solo. These moments were when the show really reached its full potential. Between ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’, ‘Lush Life’ and ‘La Vie En Rose’, Lady Gaga exceeded all expectations. Her vocals were faultless and powerful, sometimes not even requiring a microphone to reach the edges of the Royal Albert Hall. Threaded through these masterful performances was occasional cute laughter, innuendos and humour, where Gaga drew an audience of over 5000 into an intimate gig.

The pair drew in a rather eclectic audience, from enthusiastic Little Monsters to older audience members devoted to jazz. This varietal characteristic of the audience made for a very inclusive and fun environment, where the sound of silence amongst the audience captivated by Bennett and Gaga’s vocals revealed people being brought together through the power of music. All sitting amongst the beauty that is the Royal Albert Hall, the soft but colourful lighting used throughout the set was engrossing, creating an exclusive orb enabling one to lose oneself in the gentle riffs of delicate jazz.

The ordering of tracks was well-played, and while some lifted the audience up – such as ‘I Won’t Dance’ and ‘Firefly’ – many others soothed the audience into a melancholic aura – such as ‘Nature Boy’. Other than Gaga’s ‘La Vie En Rose’, the highlight of the night was the duo’s rendition of ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’, which disappointingly didn’t feature on Cheek to Cheek but did in one of Bennett’s previous albums, where Gaga humorously referred to herself as the ‘tramp’ and turned the elegance she had upheld beforehand on its head, showing her chameleon-like nature as an artist once again.

The show in support of Bennett and Gaga’s Cheek to Cheek unveils Gaga’s versatility and Bennett’s legendary status, where the unlikely pair show the cyclical nature of popular culture and prove that ‘Anything Goes’, and that ‘anything’ is sure worth it.

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Film & English student, Deputy Editor of The Edge and President of FilmSoc. Likes FKA twigs, BANKS and other capitalised artists.

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