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Paul Anka's "Seven Decades Tour" LIVE! at MPAC


By Spotlight Central, Photos by Love Imagery

originally published: 06/18/2024

Paul Anka

Music lovers inside Morristown, NJ’s MPAC auditorium this Saturday, June 8, 2024 evening prepare for a sold-out Seven Decades Tour performance by Paul Anka.

One of the biggest teen idols of the late ’50s and early ’60s, over the past seven decades, Anka has gone on to become a successful songwriter, recording artist, and performer. After composing the theme for The Tonight Show in the ’60s, he wrote songs for The Doobie Brothers and Michael Jackson in the ’70s and ’80s, and recorded with artists including Kenny G and Patti LaBelle in the ‘90s. In 2020, he appeared on The Masked Singer, and in 2024, sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Times Square. His latest single is “Imagine.”

The MPAC lights dim and a group of seven musicians take their places on stage as a short film about Paul Anka plays on a screen behind them. The crowd cheers as Anka enters through the rear of the theater high-fiving and taking selfies with concertgoers while performing an upbeat and jazzy arrangement of his 1957 chart-topper, “Diana.” After reaching the stage, Anka says, “Thank you!” joking, “I just wanted to get that song out of the way!”

Backed by his band, Anka, 82, performs with charm and personality on a medley of “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “For Once in My Life,” his voice sounding full, powerful, and resonant.

Paul Anka

Moving on to his 1957 hit, “You Are My Destiny,” Anka’s commanding voice encircles the theater. After acknowledging his musicians, a fan in the audience yells out, “How ‘bout you do that Italian song that was popular in Italy?” to which Anka jokingly replies, “What do I look like — a jukebox?” and promising, “I’m a Jersey guy and I will not forget you!”



 
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Revealing that Frank Sinatra once asked him to write a comeback song, Anka performs 1973’s “Let Me Try Again.”

Paul Anka

On this number, the band plays softly underneath, gently underscoring Anka’s emotional vocal performance which connects directly with the audience.

Launching into a swing version of Sinatra’s “All of Me,” Anka sings effortlessly with style and flair, “All of me/Why not take all of me,” as audience members bop their heads to the easy big band sound. He follows up by performing his 1959 chart-topper, “Lonely Boy,” where he croons, “I’m just a lonely boy/Lonely and blue/I’m all alone/With nothin’ to do.”

Paul Anka

Anka talks about how Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin welcomed him into the fold in the ’60s before paying tribute to fellow Rat Pack member Sammy Davis, Jr. with “I’m Not Anyone,” a song he wrote for Davis in 1973. As Davis, Jr. sings onscreen to the live orchestra, Anka watches before joining in and the two friends perform together in harmony.

Upbeat music introduces the Latin influenced “Tonight My Love, Tonight” which features guitarist Josh Sklair playing a lyrical solo. Admitting, “We don’t have an arrangement for this, so you guys just jump in!” Anka honors the request for his Italian song, “Ogna Volta (Every Time),” where at the end, Anka jokes to the fan who requested it, “If you want to hear it again, go get the CD!”

Paul Anka

Violinist Eliza James sings with Anka on his 1974 #1 hit, “(You’re) Having My Baby.” Then, after recognizing all of the veterans in the house, Anka performs the theme song he wrote for the 1962 film, The Longest Day, a powerful ballad which has concertgoers on their feet.

“Thank you so much!” exclaims Anka, prior to going back down into the audience to perform his 1959 hit, “Put Your Head on my Shoulder.” After dancing with several members of the crowd and posing for photos, he segues into his 1960 hit, “Puppy Love,” where he picks up a fan’s phone and jokingly responds to a person on the line, “Hello, yes this is me/Whoever the hell you are/You’re getting this show for free.”



 
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As music lovers dance at their seats, Anka performs an upbeat Latin arrangement of his 1964 recording, “Eso Beso (That Kiss).”

Paul Anka

Anka reveals, “I wrote this next one for Tom Jones,” as the band segues into an upbeat and rockin’ rendition of 1971’s “She’s a Lady.” Walking among concertgoers as they clap along, Anka has the crowd sing along on the tune’s “Woah, woah, woah” lyric before taking a bow in the spotlight. Returning to the stage, Anka acknowledges, “I love taking that walk and looking at those happy faces. This is my passion; I thank you for sharing it with me.”

Anka takes a seat at the Steinway grand to perform “Do I Love You (Yes in Every Way),” a duet he recorded in 2012 with Dolly Parton. Accompanying himself on the piano as he sings this intimate and personal ballad, Anka cedes the spotlight to music director Jon Crosse who plays a jazzy alto sax solo before Anka and Co. segue into Prince’s “Purple Rain” and purple lights shower the stage.

Following a jazzy and upbeat rendition of “More,” Anka and Josh Sklair play acoustic guitars on “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” a 1958 song Anka wrote for Buddy Holly. This country two-step features an Eliza James fiddle solo and Sklair playing a twangy guitar solo.

After segueing into Don Gibson’s “Oh, Lonesome Me,” Anka and the group shift into The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love.” The audience happily sings along on the tune’s well-known “Bye bye love/Bye bye happiness” refrain, and Eliza James joins in on the fun with her fiddle before the group segues back to “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” for a foot-stomping country jam with James’ fiddle sawing and the sound of a harmonica added to the mix.

Revealing, “I wrote this next song for Barbra Streisand,” Anka’s band members are featured on “Jubilation.” Enrique Toussant slaps out a bass solo before other instrumentalists converse with one another while Anka energetically conducts. Following an extended percussion break, the audience cheers and Anka takes a bow.

He follows up by performing one of his greatest compositions, “My Way,” which he wrote for Frank Sinatra in 1969. When Anka sings, “And now, the end is near/And so I face the final curtain,” the audience cheers.

Paul Anka

As the arrangement progresses, Anka’s dynamic vocal performance crescendos. By the end of the performance, the entire MPAC audience is standing, cheering, whistling, and applauding.

Exclaiming, “Keep standing — we have to do this on our feet!” photos of the New York City skyline appear on screen as Anka and the band perform “New York, New York.” Obviously enjoying himself, Anka dances and even does a few high-step kicks before slowing down for the dramatic “It’s up to you/New York, New York” conclusion.

As the crowd whistles and cheers, Anka fist-bumps audience members at the foot of the stage. After he individually high-fives his musicians, they exit the stage leaving Anka to take a solo bow in the spotlight before waving goodnight.

Paul Anka



 
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As concertgoers exit the MPAC auditorium, several comment on tonight’s performance. Declares Pat from Hamburg, “I think Paul Anka is fantastic! He’s 82 going on 52, and he’s remarkable! His voice sounds wonderful — I can’t believe how strong it is — and the amount of energy he has is incredible, making this one great show all around.” Her husband, Jeff, agrees, adding, “I thought he was great! I haven’t seen a show this good in a long time. He performed the music I listened to as a kid and brought back a lot of memories for me.”

Reveals Jillian from Washington Township. “I’m 14 and I’m a Paul Anka fan. I brought my whole family tonight, and he was amazing! Even though most kids my age listen to Taylor Swift, I love Paul Anka, and he put on a great show!” Says family member, Dan, “Paul Anka is 82 and he’s spectacular! I’m 83 myself and I’ve been to a lot of shows but this was one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Paul Anka

Sarah from Montclair contends, “Paul Anka was so entertaining, and his show was not what I expected at all. At age 82, I thought it might be kind of ‘old-timey’ but it wasn’t — instead, it was dynamic, uplifting, and inspiring.” Her friend, Fred from Madison, concurs, noting, “Paul Anka is the consummate entertainer — when he ended the show with ‘My Way’ and ‘New York, New York,’ he just blew everybody away!”

Andy from New York City reveals, “I brought my mom here tonight because she’s such big Paul Anka fan, but I ended up enjoying the show as much as she did — he was fantastic!” Lastly, Lisa from East Hanover remarks, “I loved Paul Anka tonight! He’s a great entertainer. His voice is great and so is his band — it was like he brought a little bit of Vegas with him here to Jersey,” prior to concluding, “I could see him over and over and over!”

Paul Anka

To learn more about Paul Anka, please go to paulanka.com. For info on great future shows at MPAC — including Yachtly Crew on July 1 and Air Supply on August 8 — please click on mayoarts.org.

Photos by Love Imagery

Spotlight Central. Your source for Jersey entertainment news and reviews

Love Imagery Fine Art Photography. all you need. peace/love/flower/power


 

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