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.
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