Tonight is a night like no other. Grammy award-winning, multiplatinum heavy rocking singer and guitarist Mark Tremonti moves away from the familiarity of chug-laden riffs and operatic howls and into the territory of one of the world’s most renowned stars, Frank Sinatra.
Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra
O2 Indigo – 15 December 2022
Words: Monty Sewell
Photography: Steve Ritchie
Fans of the singer and his band Tremonti will know earlier this year, he dropped the album Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra. Fourteen classics were cut and gifted to the National Down Syndrome Society, to which all proceeds went. Tremonti’s own organisation, Take A Chance For Charity, was founded alongside this, encouraging other artists to jump into something they wouldn’t usually do in the similar name of a worthy cause.
Commendable in his cause as well as his craft, Tremonti spent months studying and perfecting that iconic Frank Sinatra sound, working alongside Sinatra’s own band leader, Mike Smith and guitarist, Dan Mclntyre.
Once granted the extremely rare approval from The Frank Sinatra Estate, the project was pushed along in full swing and, as Mark Tremonti told MetalTalk earlier this year, recording the Sinatra album was “one of the best moments of my career.”
So tonight at Indigo at The O2, the musician and his newly formed band pull out their blue-eyed suave to give us an unforgettable experience which has been anticipated for months.
It’s a formal attire event which, for those such as me who spend their life attending gigs in leather and ripped denim, serves as a refreshing up-do. Sparkles and suits don the Indigo as we take our seats and are introduced to the inspiring backstory of the album and the show.
The orchestra eagerly await their command and whips up into shape with instrumental Fun Time. From that first double bass twang, the atmosphere settles into swing band comfort, every shoulder in the room dropping in relaxed enjoyment. When it comes to live music, there’s just some kind of classy thrall with jazz that just hits right. Christmas time is here, and as the band play their last note, so is Mark Tremonti.
Dressed in a tux with complementary sneakers, the musician is confident and calm, with one hand on the mic and the other in his pocket. The audience cheer, whistle and howl for the proprietor of the night as he smiles in return. From the get-go, it’s clear this is his hand-on-heart night of great intention with a crowd who support and admire him.
The band launch into Come Fly With Me. A song that needs no introduction, Tremonti hits each intonation perfectly. I had last seen him play at Download Festival earlier this year in a no doubt very different kind of suit, so to hear him burst out with that iconic Sinatra flair with an unfailing accuracy took my ears and eyes a moment of adjustment.
“We’re gonna have some fun, huh?” Tremonti says, nailing that loose-lipped invitation to which his audience cheers in agreement.
Luck Be A Lady gives Tremonti’s voice a good stretch, his words matching perfectly with the band’s movements before they drop into the main swing of the song.
The album to which the performance is named was recorded last year, with the first song released being the next in line live offering, I’ve Got You Under My Skin. A personal favourite of mine, Nancy (With the Laughing Face), is sensationally on point after that, before I’ve Got The World On A String delights in all its brass lathered excellence.
As well as an evening of music, Tremonti takes the time in between songs to give us nit-bits of Sinatra’s life as one of the world’s most renowned stars. From the Ava Gardner affair to the real Nancy behind the name, the evening becomes an immersive experience, getting us right up close and personal with a man who played his final show just under 30 years ago.
In a wonderfully romantic (I would say cheesy but come on, it’s Sinatra!) moment, Tremonti introduces The Way You Look Tonight to a wave of ‘ah’s’ from the audience. The top-tier wedding song is followed by I Fall In Love Too Easily, featuring some bodacious, smooth work from alto saxophonist Mike Smith.
The Best Is Yet To Come, All Or Nothing At All and Chicago favourite, My Kind Of Town, keep the night swinging along in all its big band glory. Tonight was locking us in our very own fabulous otherworldly dimension where jazz is king, and Mark Tremonti is the absolute vocal double of Frank Sinatra. It really is commendably uncanny what he has done to nail that way of singing, replicating Sinatra down to a T.
Then, as though we are being punished for a too-perfect night, the PA system goes down.
“Mark, we can’t hear you! You look great, though!” The audience is more than kind to the technical malfunction as we take a five-minute interval as they fix the issue.
Dodging down the balcony into the main arena, I have a moment to catch up with my finely dressed comrades. Covered in smiles and words of praise, we enjoy the setlist breather as Tremonti shrouds us with details behind the making of the record.
Though I can’t hear much, snippets of his initial meeting with those members of Sinatra’s old touring band and their approval of his venture are briefly heard. He runs around the band, proudly introducing each member before the PA comes back on, and we’re graced with more.
Wave with that infamous low note is followed by the iconic Fly Me To The Moon, My Way, You Make Me Feel So Young and Theme From New York, New York. Everyone knows them, Tremonti fans and big band fans alike, with each track accompanied by audience sing-alongs and silver dashed eyes.
“Thank you for your support for such an incredible cause. Thank you very much!”
And what is a swing band performance in December without a few cracking Christmas numbers? Tremonti channels Sinatra meets Michael Bublé with a few classics, much to the melt-in-the-mouth joy of his audience. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, The First Noel, White Christmas and Oh Holy Night.
“Let me ask you something. If we came back here and did another show with these guys, would you guys come back?” The answer is a resounding, almost heckling, yes.
The last tremendously sung song is That’s Life. Tremonti reminds us we are the first audience to see him and the band play those songs together, and it feels nothing short of a sincerely special moment. After Tremonti exists, the band play out the evening with Queen Bee before the show finishes.
Mark Tremonti returns to the stage to give his final thanks for the evening. The Take A Chance For Charity founder reminds us of the brilliant work the National Down Syndrome Society does for its cause, encouraging us to seek similar good-hearted feats of kindness.
In an unusual twist, the musician enthusiastically prompts us to take out our phones and “take pictures of us, film this moment and please share it everywhere on social media, with your friends and family.” Though a spectacular evening of music, the necessity to keep promoting the evening’s worthy cause is vital.
I think I speak for all when I say we are all hoping and praying Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra returns to the UK as soon as the jazz gods allow. The audience in Orlando on 29 December 2022 are in for a special treat.
Any artist who steps out of their comfort zone not for themselves but for something bigger with the scope of having a real, benevolent impact should be commended without a doubt.
But to nail a legend like that, Tremonti has taken that idea and made it ten times better. Buy the album, go see the show, fall back in love with Sinatra and most of all, never forget the power music can have and how through it, we can continue to help those around us.
For more details, visit https://tremontisingssinatra.com.