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Mathis Heartwarming Despite
Unwillingness to Veer Out of Memory Lane

Johnny Mathis
Chicago Theatre
Chicago, IL
May 10, 2003
Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis feels the smoothness.

Story and Photos by Andy Argyrakis

There are few artists in music industry history that have had Top 40 hits in four different decades and there are even fewer that can boast about having a record on the Billboard album charts for an unprecedented 490 weeks! However, Johnny Mathis not only earned the bragging rights to such impressive stats, they're joined by several Grammy nods, a string of multi-million selling albums, and the ability to still sell out a respectable theatre tour nearly half a century after he began performing.
Johnny Mathis Despite the lengthy stretch Mathis has been recording and traveling, he showed little signs of vocal wear or significant aging during his most recent trip to Chicago, reasons for area fans to swoon with delight as the evening's jazz tinged easy listening hit parade progressed. Backed by his traveling rhythm section and a full orchestra comprised of Chicago based musicians, the dapperly dressed star wooed the crowd continuously, including a sultry rendition of "Days of Wine and Roses," the innocent love song "Moon River," and the delightfully unforgettable "It's All in the Game." As he sang each word to such well-known hits, you could hear a pin drop and fans literally gawked with mouths wide open while Mathis hit each note smoothly and evenly. The orchestral beauty provided an additionally swelling effect to the fellow giant hits "Misty" and "Wonderful! Wonderful!" though that paring reached its dramatic apexes during romantic standards like his very first hit single "Chances Are," the gentle breeze "It's Not For Me to Say," and the tender sonnet "You Make Me Feel Brand New."
If the set was missing anything, it was its scarcity of original new material, which Mathis has certainly been void of producing over the last several years (his 2000 Mathis on Broadway consisted of show tune covers and 2002 marked the unnecessary product driven mentality of The Christmas Album). Come to think of it, the majority of songs featured in his windy city set were at least twenty years old or more, unfortunately shedding light on Mathis' desire to simply take fans on a trip down memory lane rather than evolving. That slightly disappointing element didn't take away from Mathis' otherwise heartwarming evening of compositions that have withstood the test of time, but hopefully next time fans will be exposed to some future inklings this tender hearted crooner may have up his sleeve.

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