I've been hearing about Michael Feinstein for many years. My friend, Dan, is his publicist. Last night, Dan took my to see the "By Request" show at Feinstein's at the Regency Hotel. Walking in, I felt as if I was stepping back in time to old world New York. No flashy lights, sets, or costumes - just an honest, warm performance by a man who is a generous, exceedingly talented artist who loves his audience.
Most of the songs were standards - Cole Porter, Gershwin, Sondheim. There were legendary musicians in the band - Bucky Pizzarelli (http://feinsteinsattheregency.com/bio.php?id=27) and Ken Ascher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenny_Ascher). It was a celebration of times gone by, and musicians working very hard to keep the music that they love alive. Of all the requests that were done, my favorite was a simple ballad, "Old Friend" that Mr. Feinstein performed solo, sitting at the piano. I learned from Dan that this is a staple that he has performed for decades. It's become one of his hallmark performances.
I had never heard the song before, and found myself getting more choked up as the song went on. Even after so many years, its lyrics continue to resonate with people of all ages. It's one of the things I love best about music and art - it lets those across generations share a common expereince. I googled it and found a You Tube video of Mr. Feinstein performing the song, the same way he did last night. A beautiful performance that renewed my belief that all of the flashy elements of so many of today's shows are unnecessary so long as the talent on stage is at the level I saw last night.
See the video of "Old Friend" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsoJQeyyIbg.