LYNN — Decisions, decisions? What to watch? Sunday night offered so many choices.
We decided to put on our New England Patriots sweatshirts and cheer for the old guy. And let me tell you, Engelbert Humperdinck did not disappoint.
What, you thought I was talking about 41-year-old Tom Brady?
Sunday night at Lynn Auditorium, the legendary 82-year-old English ballad singer born Arnold George Dorsey wowed a crowd that featured lovey-dovey couples and large groups of women, including many mothers/daughters/granddaughters out for a night on the town. For 90 minutes, the fortunes of our professional football and baseball teams were set aside.
And fans cheered just as loudly for Engelbert as those vocal Red Sox fans at Fenway.
Looking dapper and fit in a blue suit and red shirt, Engelbert is a throwback to a form of musical entertainment that is sadly becoming more rare: the affable crooner, much like his early supporter Dean Martin, who sings classic songs, tells a few corny jokes while sipping from a glass of red wine, and focuses on giving audience members their money’s worth.
Engie, the greatest showman, was in fine voice, hitting nearly every note, and his professional eight-piece band (two female backup singers, piano, electric keyboard, synthesizer, guitar, bass, drums) gave the show a dazzling Las Vegas feel. He stood or danced for most of the show, stopping now and then to sip a little wine or to praise his musicians.
His song selection was strong. Of course, he sang the biggies that made him a superstar/object of lust with the women of the world, including “Release Me,” which started the ball rolling in 1967 and closed Sunday night’s main set. The crowd sang along, loudly.
Triple-platinum hit “After the Lovin'” was a fan favorite, as was “The Last Waltz,” which had the crowd swaying to the beat. “My World (Il Mondo)” and a cover of the Celine Dion hit “The Power of Love” received thunderous ovations. A Dean Martin impression during a lively “Quando, Quando, Quando” drew laughs.
A medley featuring snippets of hits (“This Moment in Time” / “The Way It Used to Be” / “Les Bicyclettes De Belsize” / “There Goes My Everything” / “Spanish Eyes” / “Love Is All”) was well-received, and a rock-and-roll version of the standard “I Can’t Stop Loving You” featured barrelhouse piano and set toes-a-tapping.
Tunes from his new album, “The Man I Want to Be,” hit the mark. His slowed-down version of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” was an unlikely selection and was terrific. His 9-year-old granddaughter Olivia, shown in a pre-recorded video, was his duet partner for “I’m Glad I Danced With You,” written by Engelbert’s daughter Louise Dorsey. In an emotional aside, Engie said young Olivia was singing the part his wife of 54 years, Patricia, would normally have sung. His wife has been battling advanced Alzheimer’s disease for several years, and Engelbert said all proceeds from his upcoming single, “Under the Man in the Moon,” would be donated to Alzheimer’s research.
When the house lights went on at the end of the show, after he finished singing Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times,” a large group of fans congregated at the foot of the stage, handing rose bouquets and love letters to Engie. He shook hands, tossed red handkerchiefs into the audience and hung around for quite a while. You’d think he was a New England sports star or something…