Rick Michel’s “Sinatra Forever” LIVE! at PNC Bank Arts Center

Spotlight Central
Spotlight Central


By Spotlight Central. Photos by Love Imagery

It’s a gorgeous May 8, 2024 afternoon at Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center as “Old Blue Eyes” fans ready themselves for Rick Michel’s Sinatra Forever tribute show. Sinatra Forever is the first in a series of free afternoon concerts at the PNC Bank Arts Center for New Jersey residents aged 55 and over. All shows are presented by the Garden State Arts Foundation under the direction of VP Ron Gravino, who is ably assisted by Cookie Santiago and Bob O’Brien.

Gravino welcomes the audience to the Arts Center amphitheater and talks about free upcoming GSAF performances including Cousin Brucie Presents Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, and Lala Brooks which will take place here on May 30. He also thanks the various sponsors of today’s show — LiveNation Entertainment and PNC Bank — before introducing today’s headliner, Rick Michel.

Backed by a 24-piece orchestra, Michel takes the stage singing the well-known Sinatra staple, “The Lady is a Tramp.”

With his rich, warm baritone voice, Michel gives a rousing rendition of the tune, changing up the lyrics for the Jersey crowd crooning, “She loves the PNC and never gets here late.”

The crowd avidly applauds, and Michel greets the audience announcing, “We’re going to do a great set today!” as he and the band sail into “All or Nothing at All,” where, like “The Chairman of the Board” himself, Michel conducts various orchestral breaks within the arrangement.

Following the swinging, “Oh, Look at Me Now,” Michel acknowledges, “This is my 10th year at the PNC,” as he springs into “Young at Heart,” singing with conviction while tinkling piano keys underscore the arrangement’s smooth legato string lines. Next up is an upbeat and jazzy interpretation of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” where Michel croons with skill and style before following up with the Sinatra ballad, “All My Tomorrows.””

Announcing, “Frank Sinatra recorded more songs than Elvis Presley and The Beatles together — more than 1500 songs,” Michel performs “Nice and Easy” where the orchestra swells behind him. He follows up with the wind instruments and rhythm section swinging along with him to Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”

Following a poignant interpretation of Michel LeGrand’s “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” Sinatra fans applaud when they recognize the classic Nelson Riddle arrangement of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” where Michel effortlessly croons as strings glide along with legato lines that contrast with the orchestra’s swinging horns and walking bass.

Music lovers softly sing along with Michel on “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and tap their toes to a lively arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life.” Strings are again featured on “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” where during the ballad’s interlude, Michel confesses, “I’m a sucker for strings!”

After noting, “This wasn’t a favorite song for Frank to sing, but I’m sure it’s one of your favorites,” Michel channels Sinatra as he performs “Strangers in the Night” and invites the audience to join him on the tune’s famous “Doo-bee-doo-bee doo” coda.

Piano chords accent the smooth sound of the string section as Michel’s big voice takes on Sinatra’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” prior to dedicating his next selection to his mom. Audience members sing along on a delightful rendition of “You Make Me Feel So Young” which has Michel and the orchestra singing and swinging together with youthful enthusiasm.

After vocalizing with power on the dynamic “Let Me Try Again,” Michel lyrically pays tribute to all of the talented instrumentalists onstage with his performance of “Here’s to the Band.”

Music lovers sing along with Michel on “My Way,” after which he is rewarded with a standing ovation and announces, “There’s one song I left out. What do you think it is?”

Concertgoers reply, “‘New York, New York,” and Michel croons, “Start spreading the news/I’m leaving today,” as audience members sing, clap, and dance along at their seats before Michel takes a bow for his Sinatra Forever tribute.

As music lovers exit the PNC Bank Arts Center amphitheater, several comment on today’s Sinatra Forever performance. Declares Nancy from Woodbridge, “Rick Michel did a fantastic job! He sounded very much like Frank Sinatra — in fact, several times when he was singing, I was looking up to heaven!”

Robert from Old Bridge reveals, “This is the second time I’ve seen Rick Michel here at the PNC, and he was great,” before adding, “I come to the shows here often — The Garden State Arts Foundation gives so much to New Jersey seniors.”

Lee from Ocean Township exclaims, “Today’s show was a lot of fun! Rick Michel’s voice is really good and he is very animated, plus, I knew a lot of the songs — they brought back nice memories of my mom and dad.”

Carol from East Hanover concurs, adding, “The show was fabulous — I love, love, loved it! It brought back so many years of great memories.”

Steven from Bloomsbury asserts, “I thought the show was fantastic! It was everything I thought it would be and more — I loved all the songs!” before Nancy from Califon concludes, “It was a wonderful show! I’d see it again in a heartbeat!”

To find out more about Rick Michel, please go to rickmichel.com. For information on free upcoming GSAF performances including Cousin Brucie Presents: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, and Lala Brooks on May 30 — please click on gsafoundation.org.



Spotlight Central
Spotlight Central

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