Indeed, the show is one that lives long after the final note is sung. Williams is that kind of a performer who, perhaps unknowingly, gives a little of himself to each person in the crowd.
Peter Nero zeroed in on the piano and the Osmond Brothers introduced their sixth singing star, little Jimmy, 4, but more on them later.
Williams opened his act with a soul-searching impression of Born Free. It remains one of the best versions around – with apologies to Matt Monro – because Williams makes it a moving experience, clenching a fist, closing his eyes in concentrated thought, grasping the mike with intense emotion.
In a quickie salute to composer Henry Mancini, he bats out the hits that have made him the home run king in plattersville – a medley of Dear Heart, The Days of Wine and Roses, and Moon River.
He is backed by a splendid 35-piece orchestra, directed by Jack Feierman, whose support is consistently thorough, yet Williams proves he can sing with mere guitar accompaniment by Mike Kollander, as he does on Danny Boy, the classic Irish tune which needs no other instrumental accessories.
When he swings in The Beatles With a Little Help From My Friends, Williams signals the arrival of the Osmonds – Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, and Donny.
The lads – immaculate in white Nehru suits with sparkling eyes and Cheshire cat grins peeking out from beneath the mop of neatly combed hair – are marvelously mobile, notably on a Maori novelty. Boy, do they have pizzazz!
With Williams, they do Peg of My Heart and Scarborough Fair – tunes that are worlds apart, but they bridge the gap beautifully.
The Osmonds’ Mary Elizabeth, definitely in the rock groove was a bit loud and lavish for most folk, but it displayed the vigor, vim, and verve of the brothers, who record on Barnaby.
Tiny bopper Jimmy made the Osmonds a six-pack with his delightful, delirious and dandy duo, I Dig Rock and Roll Music and I Got A Woman. This youngster, who barely is 3 feet tall, possesses remarkable stage presence.
And his charming “sock it to me” injection – what a ham! – caught Williams off guard, too. Clearly, Jimmy will soar with time.
The Columbia Records star conducted his show much in the manner of his television program – with patter, chatter, and a home-spun conversational feel. As in his TV show, Williams sat on a stool for one tune, Honey.
For those who remembered his early career – and judging from the warm applause, many did – Williams localized Hawaiian Wedding Song with all the ritual and romance of Paradise.
My favorite number was Somewhere, the West Side Story hit, which Williams handled authoritatively: if you closed your eyes you could envision that somewhere.
Nero’s hour-long pianistics were stylistically impressive – he is a deft artist, whose nimble fingerings yield remarkably fresh, vibrant sounds.
Too, his fusion of opposites – for instance, the Beethoven’s theme and Night and Day is potent.
The RCA Victor star can take an oldie such as I Got Rhythm and make it something ‘swonderful, with the assist of his keen bassist, Gene Cehrico, and energetic drummer, Joe Cusatis. The improvisatory quality is a blessing.
I like my piano soft – and thus enjoyed The Shadow of Your Smile and The Sounds of Silence, for these tunes were treated with plaintive poignancy, rather than with arty antics on the keyboard.
Williams, Nero, and the Osmonds were making their Hawaii stage debut, and based on audience reaction, a return engagement is in order.