Ol’ Blue Eyes in 1990
The London Arena which opened in 1989 was located in the Isle of Dogs near to the Crossharbour, in an earlier post I discussed its rise and fall.
Whilst a number of top performers appeared there, I was surprised to find out that in 1990, the venue for four nights played host to Frank Sinatra on his 75th Birthday tour.
Sinatra was no stranger to London appearing here many times, but usually in small theatres or the Royal Albert Hall.
From some of the reviews of the concerts it seems that Ol’ Blue Eyes was still a class act but age was catching up with him.
Actress Penelope Wilton attended one of the concerts and gave her impressions in a interview in the Telegraph.
You couldn’t see him to begin with – you just saw this huddle of figures coming down a ramp, surrounded by flashbulbs. Suddenly, out on stage emerged this little man with grey hair.
But when the orchestra started up (his son was conducting) and this wonderful voice came out, you realised that Frank Sinatra had arrived.
Actually, by then his voice had gone a bit. He was absolutely fine doing the big numbers, but he found the quiet notes more difficult. That didn’t spoil it for me at all. He was a wonderful actor when he sang, and was still able to create an intimacy in this enormous place.
When the lights went down, it was like he was the only person there. Incredible. When it finished, I felt absolutely ecstatic. The evening made me think that I must go to more live gigs, but with my job I can never book ahead.
In the concerts, Sinatra performed many of his classic hits including The Lady Is a Tramp , Strangers in the Night, Mack the Knife, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), My Way and New York, New York.
It turned out that these concerts and the later Royal Albert Hall concert in 1992 would be the last time he would appear in concert in London.
A number of people who attended the concert praised Sinatra’s performance but criticised the Arena, the price of the tickets (£75) and the transport difficulties they encountered after the concert.
Sinatra died in 1998, the London Arena struggled on until 2005 when it was demolished.
Other posts you may find interesting
The Rise and Fall of the London Arena
Reblogged this on Max Robberts and commented:
And I was there.
That is amazing, It is one of those concerts, where you think I wish I was there !
I was and as Penelope Wilton says when he came on stage you knew Frank Sinatra had arrived. The place erupted though before he even sang a note. Everyone stood up and to me he was totalling being worshiped! The voice was still good although in parts didn’t deliver as it once had but he was 75! But really a memorable occasion!
Thanks for the memories, it is strange that you often attend concerts and think nothing of it, but when you look back you realise it was an important occasion.
I have had a number of people who attended the concert leave a comment, my answer is always the same.
There are only a few singers or bands I wish I had seen live, Frank Sinatra is definitely one of those.
I suppose at the time I thought he would go on for ever !!
I, too, was at this gig and it remains as one of the highlights of my life.
I could not believe that there in front of me stood the legendary Frank Sinatra, it was just too incredible for words
And his voice was amazing
It must have been an amazing experience to see Old Blue Eyes in real life, thanks for the comment.
I don’t suppose you took any pictures when he came off stage because I was at his side until he reached the green room.
I was also there that night he entered the arena and i was in an end seat he walked past me it was an honour to see my hero he sounded great to me although it could have been the fact i had waited years to see him.
I saw him again in Las Vegas 2 years later the man was Legend and he always will be in my mind,God bless you Frank for bringing so much pleasure to millions of us.
Thanks for the comment and memories, It must have been something to see the legend that was Frank Sinatra.
I was at the Docklands he was fantastic that night I remember he escorted his wife to her seat and to stop to let someone reach their seat and the guy never realised it was Sinatra!! For a man of 75 what a voice. Just beautiful thanks for the memories Mr Sinatra