This incredible 3-CD package includes live appearances in Las Vegas, Dallas, and a fabulous show at Philly's own Spectrum on October 7th, 1974. The opening notes of the recording find Sinatra’s orchestra playing an instrumental overture prior to Ol’ Blues Eyes’ stage entrance. ‘Overture’ begins with a rising shimmer of soft string chords and mellow woodwind, followed by a saxophone playing a sensuous snippet of ‘It Was A Very Good Year’. The orchestra then makes a seamless transition into another Sinatra favorite, ‘All The Way’, before the melody dissolves and, at two minutes in, a fast, swinging groove develops. Over it, we hear the familiar melodic contours of ‘My Kind Of Town (Chicago)’, which whips the audience into a frenzy as they anticipate Sinatra’s appearance.
A short brass fanfare announces his arrival, and then the band launch into ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’. Sinatra comes in right on cue, his distinctive laconic baritone riding on a swaggering big band swing juggernaut that rolls back the years. “I’m glad to be back here,” says Sinatra, who, at 58, unequivocally demonstrates that he can still swing effortlessly – as he proves on further uptempo favorites such as ‘I Get A Kick Out Of You’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ and ‘My Kind Of Town’, the latter delivered in a heroic, rip-roaring fashion.
But it’s the ballads that show that Sinatra never abandoned his roots as a saloon singer. Especially a touching rendering of 'Let Me Try Again,' ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’, and a show stopping 'Old Man River.'
Showing that he’s in tune with the times, Sinatra includes some contemporary songs in his set. ‘Send In The Clowns’ is solemn and haunting (“I’m crazy about this song,” he enthuses) and is followed by a delicate version of Bread’s David Gates-penned ‘If’ an uplifting take on Stevie Wonder's ‘You Are The Sunshine Of My Life’, and then Michel Legrand's 'What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life.'
The concert ends with ‘My Way’, Sinatra’s 1969 hit revamp of an obscure French song (‘Comme D’Habitude’). With English lyrics written by Paul Anka, Sinatra transformed the tune into a personal anthem. Its popularity meant that it very quickly became one of his signature songs and he routinely used it as a show-stopping curtain-closer. Here, the band also play it as an outro, jazzing it up as Sinatra takes his bows to an 18,000-strong standing ovation.
Philadelphia, evidently, was Frank’s kind of town. As for The Spectrum, though, it appears not to have been loved by the folks of Philly. After several changes of name, it closed down in 2009 and was demolished a year later. But as the second CD on Standing Room Only reveals, it was a place that gave Frank Sinatra a lot of love on his visit there, on 7 October 1974, proving that when The Chairman was in town, Monday nights were never quiet.