HUB Concert Review: Johnny Mathis in Santa Rosa, California

HUB Concert Review:  Johnny Mathis in Santa Rosa, California

by Michael P Coleman

I struggle for words to describe Johnny Mathis in concert, but if you’ll be patient with me, I’ll give it a whirl.   His voice?  A national treasure. His phrasing? Stunning. His musicality? Unrivaled.  His showmanship? Flawless. 

Appearing to be in his 50s, the incomparable Johnny Mathis, 81, took the stage just after 8pm Saturday night at the gorgeous Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, California.  It was a stop in his The Voice Of Romance Tour, a gift to fans as the legend celebrates 61 years in show business. 

61 years.  Mathis was doing it — and doing it very well, thank you very much — long before I was born.  If Saturday night’s show was any indication, he could be doing it long after I’m gone.  

Saying that Mathis appeals to multiple generations is an understatement, as I sat next to a 22-year-old college student who’d flown in from Arizona for the show, and just behind a 84-year old woman who was celebrating her birthday. 

Highlights of the two hour show were too many to name, but Mathis’ sublime version of “Moon River” is stuck in my head, a part of his tribute to Henry Mancini.  Other showstoppers included “Chances Are,” “Misty,” “My Funny Valentine,” and several Thom Bell / Stylistics 70s classics like “I’m Stone In Love With You” and “Betcha By Golly Wow.” 

Instead of The Voice Of Romance Tour, Mathis could have just as easily entitled the show Old Pals.  The singer presents himself as just that, and all of his selections evoked memories of days gone by.  Only the occasional iPhone, struggling hopelessly to capture a small part of Saturday night’s magic, reminded me that we’d not been whisked away in a time machine to a day when singers sang beautifully crafted songs.  Mathis himself is perhaps the last of his kind:  a gentile, impeccable performer who is absolutely in a class all his own.

The legend will be on the road throughout the year, and you owe it to yourself to catch him in a town near you.  Trust me:  you’ll be very, very glad you did. 

Details on Johnny Mathis’ The Voice Of Romance Tour can be found at johnnymathis.com.

Michael P ColemanThis review was written by freelancer Michael P Coleman.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP