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Michael Feinstein – Crooners @ Feinstein’s at the Nikko

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, Sn Francisco, CA, May 18, 2017
Michael Feinstein joked about the Nikko owners throwing him a bone and hiring him for this current four performance run of Crooners, a celebration of the legendary vocalists who created a conversational style post introduction of the microphone.  Of course Michael has carte blanche anytime he deigns to bring his considerable talents to his namesake club.  Over the past few years Feinstein has become increasingly more open, congenial and downright funny.  His quick wit, encyclopedic musical knowledge and pleasing tenor are always in abundance- the man aims to please.

A Feinstein show has its share of showstoppers; songs that his audience, well versed on the Great American Songbook eat up.  Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine”, a big hit for crooner Tony Martin and a lovely, slowed down rendition of the Ray Henderson/Buddy DeSylva/Lew Brown hit “It All Depends on You” (an homage to Nat King Cole) fit this mold.  Tony Bennett is honored with Johnny Mercer’s heartbreak revenge song “I Wanna Be Around”, carefully massaged with Feinstein’s impeccable phrasing and attention to the lyrical intent (this song could just have easily been attributed to female crooner Eydie Gorme for her emotionally charged chart topper).  Feinstein likes big finishes, which show off his long sustained notes and vocal power, but aren’t always necessary.

A nice medley of ballads; “Learn To Croon” (Bing Crosby’s unofficial anthem), “I’ll Get By (As Long as I Have You)” (Fred E. Ahlert/Roy Turk) and “If” (David Gates) display Feinstein at his romantic best.  A set highlight was his tribute to Peter Allen with “You and Me” which segued into “I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love”- simply stunning.  Small details like his friendship with Liza and Peter and a possible connection between closeted gay lyricist Ed Heyman and his masterpiece lyrics on “Body and Soul” (music by Johnny Green) make a Feinstein performance a historical treasure as well. His encore was a choice nugget from his favorite composer George Gershwin, the seldom heard “Three Times a Day” (lyrics by Ira Gershwin and B.G. DeSylva).  It was a soft, sweet, tender closer to counter-balance Feinstein’s big, bold swinging style