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Billboard May 23 1970

Sinatra 'Chairman' All The Way in U.K. Concert

LONDON -- From the moment he stepped on stage at the Royal Festival Hall in the first of his two, long awaited and much heralded London charity concerts, Frank Sinatra had complete control of the situation.

The Festival Hall, packed to capacity with an estimated audience of 2,500, swung to the Count Basie orchestra in the first half which set the pace for things to come. The combination of Basie and Sinatra is dynamic and with the added backing of the selection of hand-picked musicians conducted by Bill Miller, nothing could go wrong.

Princess Margaret, accompanied by Lord Snowdon, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, seemed to lead the applause throughout.

Any suspicions the audience may have had that the accumulated years might be diminishing Sinatra's magic, were soon dispelled in the first few bars of his opening song. Sinatra proved that his phrasing and breath control are still second to none, whether he is singing a ballad or an uptempo swinger.

In fact, throughout there was little doubt that this was Sinatra at his very best. Introductions and asides were kept to a minimum and during his one-hour performance he revealed all the many facets of his talent.

Popular opinion at the concert was that the half hour alloted to the Count Basie orchestra was far too short. However the band played well and there were five solos from Eddie (Lockjaw) Davis on tenor, Bobby Plater on alto and Harry (Sweets) Edison on trumpet.

By the second half tension and excitement were at a peak. And without any introduction on walked Sinatra with a solitary spotlight and what must have been one of the biggest ovations ever received by an artist in Britain.

Sinatra picked the very best material from his repertoire to delight his audience; each opening phrase was immediately recognized and each number drew rapturous applause. Sinatra swung through "Come Fly With Me," "Chicago," "The Lady Is a Tramp," in characteristic style.

Sinatra sings with tremendous feeling with songs like "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "You Make Me Feel So Young" he simply could do no wrong. But it was perhaps with his sensitive interpretations of "Old Man River" and "Yesterday" that Sinatra, with his superb song craft, prove that he is an incomparable stylist.

This was a night to remember and one which must rank as the show business night of the year.