While he didn’t send my fianceé and I a bottle of champagne like the one he gave Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco in Martin Scorsese’s “GoodFellas,” Bobby Vinton’s recent love letter to Western New York inside the Seneca Niagara Events Center was a success on all counts.
He arrived on stage at 8:05 p.m. to the peppy jingle of his son Robert’s jazz ensemble and liquefied the cores of his Polish faithful with an arsenal of ballads potent enough to make even The Grinch’s heart grow three sizes in one day.
Combine the irresistible lure of “Roses Are Red,” “Blue Velvet” and “My Melody of Love” with the fact that Vinton displays a degree of cardiovascular fitness defying his 78 years, and one begins to see why the man remains a living legend of the stage.
His voice, charisma, and affability make him an easy performer to like, because the usual partition between artist and admirer dissipates once the lights are dimmed. He has forged a lifelong bond with his audience that transcends mere music, which is why his decision to carouse through the crowd near the halfway point of the show wasn’t as unexpected as some may have thought.
Between dancing with couples during the “Anniversary Waltz” and dabbling in whatever instrument he could get his hands on, Vinton didn’t stop moving for a second.
Sure, the entire presentation radiated an air of Vegas-esque cabaret showmanship, but the evening’s spirit was too dynamic to let a little schmaltz get in the way. The music was a throwback to a time predicated on innocence and idealism, so the gathered had certainly come to relive the sounds of their youth without sweating the small stuff.
Before crooning his war-time classic, “Mr. Lonely,” Vinton asked each veteran in attendance to stand up and take a bow, which was a classy move that felt more authentic than other celebrities who mention servicemen simply to get a cheap applause.
The tune was an arresting star placed atop Vinton’s tree of musical gifts, which were delivered on time, and with expert precision.