Freelancer and aspiring journalist from Adelaide. Visual Arts graduate & current journalism student. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art & food. I also write for The Adelaidian // theadelaidian.net/author/georgina-tselekidis
Feinstein flies us to the moon in Sinatra and Friends
When it comes to the classic songs of Frank Sinatra, there's not many who can totally pull them off and share a resemblance to the music legend at the same time. Although I have seen my fair share of cover bands and musical renditions, Michael Feinstein is not just your average performer.
Sitting in my red velvet chair at Her Majesty's Theatre, I was automatically enthralled by the big band who opened the show - Frank Sinatra and Friends. With a mix of saxophone, guitar, drums and other instruments, the audiences' attention was instantly seized and I knew we were in for a big night filled with amazement and quality music. As Feinstein stepped onto the stage with a contagious energy that stuck to the very end, we were taken along a snapshot of his extensive career in music.
He lives and breathes the 'great American songbook' and aims to share his passion for the classics with the world. But it's not only the songs that he loves to sing, he holds a deep connection to the artists, original songwriters and performers who made these pieces what they are today. This has earned him five Grammy Award nominations and appearances at iconic venues like The White House, Buckingham Palace, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House.
Feinstein also founded the Great American Songbook Foundation, which includes a variety of educational programs, Master Classes and the annual High School Songbook Academy that attracts students across America. It's difficult to summarise Micheal's dazzling career in a few words, but he has impressively worked with renowned figures such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.
Talking to us in a down to earth tone, as though we've all known each other for a long time, Feinstein revealed his first experience of meeting and performing for Sinatra himself. From this moment on, you could tell the audience grew even more fascinated by Feinstein, who continued to charm us with his stints with musical icons. His musical knowledge was beyond the best I've seen, giving us an exact lowdown of the background behind a number of adored vintage songs like Fly Me to the Moon - heightened by a stellar guitar solo by Nick Pennington. You can say that we (the audience) now know a little more context around the words that we casually sung along to on the night, with Feinstein guiding us through Sinatra's' variety of not so popular pieces that were successfully put together in a program unlike any other. Accompanying the songs, the history of this revolutionary American movement weaved its way through the duration of the evening and Feinstein simultaneously intertwined his witty and gentle persona from the get-go.
Dressed dapper in a classic black suit, alongside his 17 magnificent sidekicks who also donned a sleek flair, Feinstein belted out a number of well-known pieces from Sinatra and his friends, including Fred Astaire, Nat King Cole, Peter Allen, and a dedication to Sammy Davis Jnr, among others. Louis Armstrongs' Hello Dolly was an upbeat and jazzy touch to the smooth and swing-filled feel of the evening.
Every time he showcased one of these romantic tunes, he transformed them into something completely fresh and new, while still staying true to the classic form of the compositions. Perhaps one of the many reasons why Feinstein has made such an impact in the contemporary music scene is his ability to make these older songs new again. He adds his own personal twist but always keeps the underlying core of song intact, unlike many other cover bands who can actually tear an original apart (and not in a good way). However, Feinstein does the complete opposite and preserves these songs from the 20th century, communicating their relevance today and giving respect to every sound, every rhythm, every beat of the backing instruments, and the very essence of American music from this bygone era.
By the end of his performance, I was stunned by his ability to sing so strongly with an incomparable energy that kept him coming back to the stage for more, even after his set was supposed to finish. He gave guests the most out of their time with him and returned for a few more ballads (and the exhilarating Sinatra mashup) as part of his encore. Standing atop the piano to New York, New York, Feinstein concluded his one and a half hour show by conveying a sincere gratitude to his fans, who like Feinstein, continue to keep revolutionary American music alive today in a world that is dominated by the new age.