Chances are if you went to the Greek last Friday night to get your eardrums shattered by rock ‘n’ roll, you’d be out of luck. However, if you’re over 50, and you still swoon to the dulcet serenades of Johnny Mathis, you were in the right place.
One of only five recording artists who from 1955 to the present has had Top 40 hits in four decades, Mathis knows his clientele well, as the fiftysomething near-capacity crowd heard him run through a panoply of Mathis standards.
Hobbled by a golf injury, Mathis was forced to shadow the mike stand for most of the night. That fact, paired with songs that have a dynamic range that runs from A to B, meant he rarely got his teeth into any of the tunes. Backed by a 30 -piece orchestra led by pianist John Scott Lavender, two-hour show lacked passion, but made up for it with memories.
Notable were his renditions of “Fly Away,” about his youth in San Francisco, the Cole Porteresque “‘And Her Mother Came To” and “Chances Are.”
Highlights of the night were a soulful rendition of Don Maclean’s “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night),” the ubiquitous “Misty” and a duet with guitarist Gil Reigers, who accompanied him on classical guitar for “The Twelfth of Never.”
While the medley of “West Side Story” tunes was savory, the rendition of outdated Brazilian melodies seemed overcooked.
With his perfect-pitch voice, Mathis seems most effective when stretching his chops, as he did on “Let the Good Times Roll,” giving a flash of the dynamism left out of the rest of the show.
“How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” brought the crowd to their feet, but they departed after set closer “Begin the Beguine” without making the effort to bring him back for more.
Comedienne Jeannine Burnier opened the night with a trunk full of geriatric jokes that seemed apropos of her audience, and though some wag was overheard saying, “You’ll never see that in Vegas,” she kept the Geritol crowd chuckling in their seats.