Andy Williams, Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Thursday July 5
With less than five months until his eightieth birthday, Andy Williams is almost the last vocal artist of his generation still out there, performing on a regular basis. Even now, the first cracks and frailties in his singing voice are only just appearing. Strong as ever on the “big” notes, it was only during the softer, lower passages that you noticed any difficulties.
Looking trim and dapper in his dinner suit, and backed by a fine ten-piece band and four-strong chorus, Williams radiated a genial, assured charm, making it all look, as his old hit put it, “so easy”.
For those on a nostalgia kick, the old favourites were present and correct: a sassy, snappy Music To Watch Girls By, a tenderly yearning Home Lovin’ Man, and the evergreen classic Moon River, which drew a standing ovation. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You knocked spots off the version performed here recently by the Pet Shop Boys, and Smokey Robinson’s Just To See You set a high standard for the Motown legend to follow on Sunday evening.
While some covers worked better than others (Robbie Williams’ She’s The One was a bold but ill-advised choice), a thrilling rendition of MacArthur Park was the absolute musical highlight: adventurously arranged, and with Andy’s voice magically restored to full power.
The show ended with a historic announcement: not only was Nottingham the final date of the tour, but it was also Andy’s final tour. There had been something of the farewell lurking throughout the show – particularly during a slowed down Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – and now we knew why. With a minimum of fuss, Williams strolled casually off stage and, as Days Of Wine And Roses so poignantly put it, “towards a closing door, a door marked “nevermore” that wasn’t there before.”