Fans of Johnny Mathis knew doomsday would not fall on May 21, 2011. The predominant senior crowd that packed into Lehman College in the Bronx that day seemed convinced judgment day would have to wait until after their favorite singer made his New York appearance.
More than a few booked ahead for MTA’s transportation Access-A-Ride service to ensure arrival at the Concert Hall. Ignoring the anticipated global apocalyptic forecast promised on huge billboards in the subway, on major thoroughfares and virtually everywhere on the internet they packed the Concert Hall.
Needless to say, the day dawned magnificently allowing visibility for miles.
A full orchestra waited the 8:00 p.m. start to a concert that from beginning to end was nothing short of superb. As on all mentions of this talent, I will dispense with the notion of objectivity to declare right here and now that Mathis is, has been and until the real judgment day comes will remain my all-time favorite recording or concert artist.
I will neither marvel nor offer personal platitudes, this is what Beryl Haygarth said.
“There is no other artist on earth that rivals Johnny Mathis.”
Haygarth traveled from North Durham, England, the day before the concert and flew back the day following the performance. Along with gal pals Esther Vardy and Chris Carroll, they have been following Mathis since 1970.
“We have seen him in Las Vegas, Pittsburg, Windsor, England and other cities and we had to come here because we have not seen him in two years,” Haygarth said.
The senior citizen said she already picked out a Mathis song she wants played at her funeral. She did not reveal the title but smiled knowingly at the probability she has planned ahead for her final ceremony.
The women claimed to have seen him all over Europe and will see him again in October when he performs there.
At the end of the Bronx concert they raised the British flag, a huge Union Jack in tribute to the crooner.
On May 21, Mathis “exceeded himself” they said.
Performing a brand new routine and repertoire, the 76-year-old scandal-free, Columbia-signed-for-perpetuity, San Franciscan sang medleys in tribute to composer Henry Mancini – “The Days of Wine & Roses,” “Moon River,” and his own hit “Chances Are.”
He segued to “On The Outside Looking In,” “When I Fall In Love,” “Never A Tear,” and perhaps to appease the British fans selected from the Beatles’ songbook – “Yesterday” and “Let It Be.” Accompanied by that previously mentioned full orchestra which comprised harp, tympani, string and brass sections along with his personal travelling band, the iconic performer also sang “99 Miles to LA,” “To The End Of the Earth,” “Stranger In Paradise,” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” and his classic “Misty,” which he said is dedicated to the memory of his favorite singer, Nat King Cole. Between songs he talked about some of his favorite people, Gladys Knight included.
He said he had seen the r&b singer on many occasions however, at one of her appearances he hoped she would sing a particular number.
Catch You On The Inside!