Legendary singer Johnny Mathis performed last Thursday April 4th at the Palace Theater in Albany, NY. I was originally told about this show by my parents, who grew up listening to his classic hits and were eager to see the crooner in action. The Palace Theater was the ideal setting for a Johnny Mathis concert, given its rich history and architecture. The crowd slowly shuffled in with most of the fans being no younger than 55. It was an unfamiliar feeling for me to be one of the youngest concert goers at a show. I was both thrilled and surprised to see a full orchestra set up on stage. Knowing that The Palace Theater has plenty of space for the music to travel around in, I suddenly couldn’t wait for the show to start. Luckily for me and everyone else, Johnny Mathis started the show at 8pm on the dot and was greeted with a slow-rising standing ovation.
The opener was “When I Fall in Love”, to which I had never heard such utter silence from a crowd. Every set of eyes and ears were locked on Mr. Mathis, giving him his much deserved attention and respect. He stated how he was “thrilled to be at The Palace” and was going to play some songs that we’ve all heard before but he loved to sing them. After a few notes, it was easy to understand why Johnny Mathis has broken the Guinness World Record for selling over 350 million of his various gold and platinum albums worldwide. Despite being 78 years old, Johnny Mathis can still sing every word as crisp and clear as on his albums, and still with great gusto. Mathis sang his classic hits such as “It’s Not For Me to Say” and my favorite, “Chances Are.” The songs were filled with charming doo-wops and sincere, long sustained notes.
Throughout the entire show, at the start of every song, the whole audience would sigh and swoon. Johnny Mathis would sing a few notes, the crowd would sigh in admiration and I could hear the folks around me gently singing the lyrics to each other. As humorous as it was, it was still heartwarming to be included in a nostalgic evening for concert-goers. Mathis ended the first set with an emotional cover “Yesterday” by The Beatles. There was a brief intermission where comedian Brad Upton kept guests entertained with clean cut jokes about today’s youth and their obsession with technology, the humor of getting older plus plenty of marriage/relationship advice. Mr. Upton delivered each punch line with charm that it was no surprise that he won the crowd over in just a few laughs. Brad Upton recently was the winner of the Las Vegas Comedy Festival and has appeared at Caesar’s Palace as part of the HBO Comedy Festival.
Johnny Mathis began the second set with the recognizable song “Pure Imagination” from the film Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. One of Mathis’ signature songs, “Misty”, received plenty of cheers due to the soaring string section and tender lyrics. The second set was mellow and easy going until Johnny Mathis brought up his fellow band mate and “Dear friend of 48 years”, Gil Reigers to center stage. The crowd got antsy as this was a sure sign that the two would play “12th of Never”, a warm ballad with gentle guitar strumming from Reigers. Johnny Mathis ended the evening by serenading the crowd with the classic song “You’ll Never Know” and thanking the talented orchestra, loyal band mates, his dedicated fans and of course, the beautiful venue, The Palace Theater.