Main Event [1979]

Sinatra strides through the sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd with the confidence of a sports hero, accompanied by his handlers and bodyguards. If not for the gray hair and tuxedo, he could very well be--Howard Cosell's histrionic introductory rap sets the concert up as a world championship bout. While this 1974 concert does not capture Sinatra at his prime (at times his voice sounds weak and he chokes on a few high notes), his tone improves over the course of the set and his phrasing remains as seemingly effortless as ever. Accompanied by Woody Herman and his Thundering Herd, Sinatra delivers his usual mix of impeccably well-chosen standards ("All the Way," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "I've Got You Under My Skin"), signature tunes ("My Kind of Town," "My Way"), and even a pop standard he effectively makes his own: Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." A sports arena is hardly the ideal setting for the Chairman of the Board--he's forced to shush the massive crowd before he can attempt the intimate "Angel Eyes"--but by the same token he has this keyed-up audience dancing in the aisles to his brassy rendition of "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." --Sean Axmaker

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