Thursday, 5 October 2006

The Best of Frank by Tom Burlinson, Crown Casino, Oct 5, 2006

 The Best of Frank by Tom Burlinson
The Palms, Crown Casino, Melbourne, Oct 5 to 15, 2006
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Frank Sinatra was a musical legend and Tom Burlinson is committed to keeping his heritage alive in his tribute shows. This second production, The Best of Frank, boasts nearly thirty songs that made Frankie’s inimitable voice famous.

Burlinson’s melodic and warm voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Old Blue Eyes, particularly in the lower register. With Musical Director, Michael Harrison, he recreates original arrangements by the likes of Nelson Riddle and Billie May with great finesse and velvet smooth delivery, embracing the syncopation and jazz turns with ease. The seemingly effortless tone and quality masks some complex vocal acrobatics.

Tom prowls across the stage in front of a tight Swing band led by Harrison on piano. The brass section is phenomenal and the rhythm boys drive the beat. The solos on trumpet, saxophone flute and trombone had the crowd cheering.

Burlinson’s links between songs are factoids about different periods of Sinatra’s career and the origins of songs, arrangements and snippets of gossip about love, marriage, albums and concerts. His patter lacks imagination; perhaps he needs someone write some snappy Frank-like jokes for him.

The first half lacks some sparkle but the second act flies us to the moon. In Act One we hear Come Fly With Me, Where or When, I Won’t Dance and two medleys of love tunes and languid ballads. Burlinson cruises comfortably through the audience during Witchcraft and performs Sinatra’s most requested number, I’ve Got You Under My Skin followed by Lady is a Tramp. He finishes the act with Cole Porter’s beautiful Night and Day.

After interval, the show takes off with Burlinson looking more confident in his relationship with both audience and band. Pennies From Heaven and Fly Me to the Moon are followed by a medley of 60s ballads including Shadow of Your Smile and a moving version of This Time.

He goes up tempo again with Luck Be A Lady, appropriate in a casino, My Kind of Town, Sunny, That’s Life and then wows the crowd with Mack the Knife. Of course, a Sinatra show would not be complete without My Way and a big finale of New York, New York.

Burlinson and his band hit their straps in the later part of the show making The Best of Frank a fitting tribute to one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century. As Frank said, “May you live to be 150 and may the last voice you hear be mine.”

By Kate Herbert

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