Andy Williams Wows Crowd At Arts Center
By Eleanor Marko
August 6, 1968
HOLMDEL – The “boy next door” proved himself a swinger last night. Andy Williams bowed in for a week at the Garden State Arts Center and proved that he never wears out on stage.
The pace of the sell-out show including the acclaimed pianist Peter Nero and the five young Osmond Brothers, was lively, mounting to almost wild pitch matched by the audience response.
Clapping, stomping, and humming greeted the pop male vocalist who captivated the more than 7,000 persons ranging in age from kindergarten, teeny boppers, college crowd and senior citizens, and led them through two and a half hours of his album hits – and applauded for more.
There are no fancy trappings or costumes in this show to hold the lovers of pop spellbound. It’s Andy all the way.
They Got It
From the moment he stepped into the spotlight in a blue suit, pale blue shirt, and black boots, to sing Moon River, and crack a few homespun jokes and banter with the audience, he had them edgy for the stirring songs that are from the albums that have reached to the more than $1 million mark in sales. They got it with Born Free – followed by goose pimples!
Peter Nero’s piano performance was most spectacular in his unique arrangement of I’ve Got Rhythm in the varied style of the classic composers Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Liszt, Beethoven, and Mozart with the surprise pop tune melody interwoven in the ending – the Doublemint gum jingle.
Supported outstandingly by instrumentalists Gene Turico on the electronically amplified string bass, and Joe Cusatis at the drums, Nero showed his virtuosity at the keyboard with music form the score of Sound of Music. There seemed to be some distortion in the tonal quality of the high resisters of the piano due to amplification. This distortion was more noticeable to those persons who sat in the amphitheater, and not at all to those seated on the lawn.
Youngster is Great
But, if four year olds can steal a show – the Osmond Brothers’ youngest – Jimmy was a wow. Dressed in a miniature white Nehru suit to match those of this elder brothers Alan, 18; Wayne, 16;, Merrill 15; Jay, 13 and Donny, 10, the 36 inch Jimmy got whistle applause for his I Dig Rock And Roll Music and repeated ovation for I Got a Woman.
Although Andy Williams tried to give a build-up to Jimmy’s first appearance, no one was convinced. He was a veteran with all the poise of his older pro brothers.
The young set really did dig the Osmond Brothers last night – just as they have no matter where they have appeared. Their newest recording Mary Elizabeth and I’ve Got Lovin’ on My Mind, a rock number, built up the teen tension to high pitch and then mellowed somewhat for us oldsters with Fascinating Rhythm complete with a tap dance routine. The beat turned to soft shoe with Andy for the song everyone loves, Peg of My Heart.
The accomplished dancing of the five young singers and their instrument playing were a sensation.
The fast pace calculated at the beginning of the show continued with Andy’s rendition of the country tune In The Summertime and after Up Up And Away it sure was hard to come down without some tranquilizers. Showman Williams had the prescription. His Danny Boy was sweet and clear in a manner the baritone his best endured himself to his fans. The sentimental favorite Somewhere from West Side Story gave indication that the drug was beginning to work. And by the time the sweet aloha of the program Hawaiian Love Song came to an end that talented singer became what everyone seemed to wish Andy Williams could be – the boy next door, a swinger on the gate.