Seth MacFarlane sings Frank Sinatra at the Proms review – “a swell night”

The creator of Family Guy took on Ole Blue Eyes at the Royal Albert Hall

imagenotavailable1

Do you know what your problem is? You’ve got no class. None.

Advertisement

Hanging around the lobby in t-shirts like you’re changing the oil on your jalopy. You think Queen Vicky knew when she built this pile it would be full of schlubs? A man dresses like he knows he’s getting dressed – a tux, a tie, shiny goddamn shoes– not like you’ve been chased onto the lawn by the fire alarm. You’ve either got or you haven’t got style, and you ain’t got it.

All your men carrying satchels full of nothing – no-one wants you anywhere, what could you be bringing? Beards like you’re afraid of your own chin, like your face won’t get to the point. Wearing headphones so you can’t hear yourself chewing, taking pictures like you’re tourists in your own life. Here’s a postcard for ya: ‘Wish I was here!’

Ask your mother to lick the stamp.

This is a Prom to ‘celebrate Sinatra’s centenary’, which sounds like you’re going to crack a bottle of champagne on ole Frank’s face. Just make sure you open it first, OK?

Really you’re here to remember when a man could stand in front of an orchestra as big and swinging as John Wilson’s and still be heard; when you didn’t need ‘self-confidence’, you just needed to open your mouth; and when having a drink in your hand meant you were in control, not out of control. Frank sang straight, he sang loud and he made you feel things.

This was a swell night – the songs are as potent as ever, and the orchestra makes them almost as big as Frank’s personality. And yeah, Jamie Parker, Claire Martin and that kid Seth MacFarlane, the one who does the comedy shows, have good voices, sure. MacFarlane was sounding tired by the end – it’s lucky Parker was there to help him off the mat in Guys and Dolls – but he’s used to voicing cartoons like Peter Griffin, not real life cartoons like Frank Sinatra. But the problem is they’re all dressing up in their daddy’s clothes.

Frank has become some sort of symbol for style, a caricature and poster boy for the emasculated masses. We slip into the voice when we want to joke about when conviction wasn’t embarrassing. That’s fine, he sure as hell played to the legend at the time. But Frank Sinatra was not a role model. Grown-ups don’t need role models. Frank Sinatra’s role model was Frank Sinatra.

The likes of It Happened in Monterey, Cheek to Cheek and I’ve Got You Under My Skin, arranged by geniuses like Nelson Riddle and Billy May. These were guys who knew what they were doing and did it, before everything became some sort of bitter joke that meant its opposite.  They were straightforward but not simple, honest but not stupid. If you’re happy, be happy. If you’re blue, be blue. And if you’re in love, tell her before someone else does.

It’s no surprise the songs still get people moving. They always spoke for themselves. But when Frank Sinatra sang them, they spoke to you.

Advertisement

Now tuck your shirt in. You look like something I don’t want to look at.