Bob Anderson’s Sinatra Tribute an Impressive Valentine to a Vegas Icon

bob_anderson_courtesy_WEBI saw Frank Sinatra the other night. I don’t care if it was Bob Anderson. I saw Frank Sinatra the other night.

So Sinatra-esque is Anderson—master of Ol’ Blue Eyes impressions—in every aspect of Frank The Man. The Music at the Palazzo that he elevates a tribute show beyond uncanny to truly artful.

Aided now by prosthetic makeup that is spot-on (at least from my distance in row U) and expanding to a full-length show, Anderson is mid-to-late-career Francis Albert from his close-cropped wig and ruggedly lived-in face to his sleek, classic tux, filled out by Sinatra’s signature swagger and charm. Ratcheting up his Sinatra from a singer he impersonates to an artist he inhabits, Anderson imbues the show with his long love affair with the Sinatra mystique, adding even more dimension than the music and makeup.

Backed by a 32-piece orchestra led by Vincent Falcone, Sinatra’s conductor, Anderson performs in a setting that’s part concert stage, part supper club. Plunging in with “Come Fly With Me,” he seasons the fabled voice with just enough Jack Daniel’s and gravel to evoke the deeper, mature Sinatra, the familiar body language intact. He throws air jabs to punch home staccato notes, flinches his shoulders to underline chord blasts and swoops his arm as the band crescendos.

Whittling down the Sinatra canon for a 90-minute showcase couldn’t have been easy, but the set list is well chosen.

In a mix of classics representing multiple eras, from Cole Porter to “New York, New York,” Anderson hits highlights including “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “All or Nothing at All,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Luck Be a Lady,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Chicago,” etc.—and of course, “My Way.” As Sinatra did, Anderson prefaces many tunes with nods toward songwriter/arrangers Gordon Jenkins, Jimmy Van Heusen, Nelson Riddle and Don Costa.

Touching on Sinatra’s bossa nova collaborations with Antonio Carlos Jobim, his voice sways and floats through the dreamy “Wave” and “The Girl From Impanema.” An anticipatory hush falls over the crowd when Anderson dons a white trench coat and—as the stage is bathed in midnight-blue lighting and faraway thunderstorm sound effects creep in—he takes a stool by the piano to croon barroom torch classics “Here’s That Rainy Day” and “One for My Baby.”

Squeezed into an all-too-brief medley are “Witchcraft,” “Night and Day,” “The Summer Wind,” “The Best Is Yet to Come” and “That’s Life.” Oh, and “Strangers in the Night,” with Anderson uttering, “I hate this song” (historically accurate, as Sinatra called it “a piece of shit”).

And in the night’s centerpiece, the stage is rearranged to approximate a recording studio during Sinatra’s Capitol Records heyday, Anderson by a podium and studio microphone, bantering with the band and re-creating the stop-and-start perfectionism of his legendary sessions.

Unquestionably, this show would put the sparkle in a pair of famous ol’ blue eyes. So set ’em up, Joe—then raise a shot glass to Frank The Man. The Music. 

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