Friday, December 24, 2010

Andy Williams in Las Vegas

Everywhere you go in Las Vegas, you hear Christmas music this time of year. 10 percent of more of what you hear will be sung by Andy Williams, whose voice President Reagan called a national treasure.

I saw Andy with Petula Clark a few years ago in his theater in Branson, and his voice was as clear as a bell. Sadly, that's not the case any more. His vibrato was out of control, he couldn't hold a note as well, and the elasticity and the just plain mellowness he was famous for was simply gone.

This was billed as a Christmas concert, and so most of the songs were thus. However, strangely, he didn't sing one of the songs he is most known for during the season, It's the Most wonderful Time of the Year. My favorite.

Also, it was not really a concert. After Andy would sing a couple of songs, he would bring out another act. It was a variety show, almost Ed Sullivan-ish. The acts were a fast violinist who enlisted an audience member to help, a couple of dancers who changed costumes amazingly behind seconds of being shrouded, a mime who used two dummies to dance. And one of the most astounding impressionists I've ever seen - and, believe me, I've seen some greats in person: Jim Bailey, Danny Gans -- and Bob Anderson was so good, he even did Andy Williams. All of these were amazing acts. They were very entertaining. While you had the feeling that Andy, at his age, could no longer sing during an entire 2-hour concert, his additions really did fill in the gap.

He also had a sister act of four singing in the foreground plus four more singers in the background. It really added to the music, as did the 10-member band.

Andy only sang three of his 50 or so chart makers, including Lonely street, and, of course, Moon River, which he called, "one of my favorite Christmas songs." He told a story about Lonely Street, saying that when he met Elvis for the first time when they were both performing in Vegas, Elvis said to him that the song was the only thing that kept him from going crazy in Germany while he was in the Army.

They had some items for sale in the lobby. The woman selling the items works directly for Andy and lives in Branson. How interesting that his entourage travels with him. I bought an autographed autobiography that he wrote three years ago. Should be an interesting, long read.

P.S. One of my kids, after reading a tweet of mine, asked his mom, Who's Andy Williams? He didn't want to ask me. And that photo that accompanies this article was probably taken 10 or 15 years ago; Andy is completely white-haired now, and seems smaller.