slides: Mojo Photography: Singer Paul Anka Performs at the Vets

Monday, November 17, 2014

 

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Paul Anka performed before a packed house at a beautifully renovated Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Providence on Wednesday. Charming was the one word that comes to mind in describing his performance. I felt as though I had transcended back fifty years to the days of “The Rat Pack,” to whom he was affectionately known as “The Kid.”

Clad in a dark suit and tie, Anka was incredibly animated and lively for his seventy-three years. Energetic on stage, he walked throughout the audience engaging fans and captivating his female following. Throughout there was a genuine sense of realism and sincerity in his performance. His voice was as velvelty smooth as it was in his youth. An enthralled audience was gripped by his songs, storytelling, and sense of humor from the moment he stepped on stage.

Career

Anka’s career has amazingly spanned seven decades, dating back to the 1950’s when he was a teen idol performing alongside the likes of Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Buddy Holly, and Bobby Darin. Known as a prolific songwriter as well as singer, he performed many of his classic hits such as "Puppy Love", "Put Your Head on My Shoulder", "Lonely Boy", and "(You’re) Having My Baby". In addition, he also sang many of the timeless hits he wrote for other stars of the time. From the sexy "She’s a Lady" (Tom Jones) to the melancholy ballad "It Doesn’t Matter Anymore" (Buddy Holly). 

Anka was accompanied by a thirteen piece band which included a six piece brass section, two percussionists, two guitarists, one pianist, one synthesizer, and a backup female vocalist who played violin. Anka’s incredible range went from love tunes ("Do I Love You"), to rock ("A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine"), to latinesque ("Jubilation"), to rockabilly (a medley including "Oh Lonesome Me" and "Bye Bye Love"). Throughout, Anka further showed his broad talent by playing piano and acoustic guitar.

Highlights

Highlights of the night were Anka singing a heartfelt "Times of Your Life" with a gigantic video backdrop reflecting on his lifetime dating back to his beginnings, progressing throughout his illustrious career,  and culminating with an introduction of his five daughters, his only son, and grandchildren. 

He also performed a moving duet of a song he wrote for the late Sammy Davis Jr., "I’m Not Anyone", again to a large video backdrop of Sammy belting out the inspiring song of self-worth while Anka sang by his side. He also sang "The Longest Day", a ballad he wrote for the 1962 hit movie of the same name. With an enormous American flag draped behind him, Anka dedicated the song to all those who have served our country, of particular significance with Veteran’s Day being the day before the show.

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Finale

Anka finished the evening by bringing the audience to its feet with a few Sinatra classics, "My Way" (written by Anka) and New York, New York. His encore included the CCR hit "Proud Mary" and his own "Diana".

When it was over, Anka stood on stage for several minutes adoring his fans with appreciation and gratitude. Hesitant to leave the stage, he blew a kiss, gave a wave goodbye, and exited and with a giant smile. An audience of nearly 2,000 fans has been provided their money’s worth, and Paul Anka had capped off another fine performance in his distinguished career.

 

Related Slideshow: Mojo Photography: Singer Paul Anka Performs at the Vets

Rick Farrell of Mojo Photography in Riverside was at The Vets to give GoLocalProv readers an all-access pass to Paul Anka's performance.

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Paul Anka was born in Ottawa, Canada on July 30, 1941.

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Anka recorded his first single, I Confess, when he was 14.

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Anka’s first hit was Diana 1957, bringing him stardom as it rocketed to #1 on U.S. music charts.

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Anka wrote the theme song for the popular “Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

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 In the late 50’s Anka traveled the country by bus with the “Cavacade of Stars,” alongside the top names of the era.

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Anka was the youngest entertainer to perform at the Copa Cabana, learning from the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Frankie Lyman, and Buddy Holly.

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As a teen Anka had a string of chart-topping hits including Diana, Puppy Love, and Put Your Head on My Shoulder.

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A talented songwriter, Anka wrote hits for many other artists including Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Buddy Holly, Sammy Davis Jr., and Michael Jackson.

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In the early 60’s the Beatles, along with the “British Invasion,” brought reduced interest to entertainers of Anka’s kind.

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In the late 60’s Anka played Las Vegas regularly.

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Anka was welcomed by “The Rat Pack,” and was affectionately known to them as “The Kid.”

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In 1974, after ten years without a top 25 hit, Anka recorded the #1 hit You’re Having My Baby.

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Anka followed up You’re Having My Baby, with Times of Your Life Reaching #7 in 1976.

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Times of Your Life was written in 1975 as the theme for a series of Kodak commercials.

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Anka was also very popular abroad, especially in Italy, France, and Japan.

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Anka has collaborated with the likes of Celine Dion, Patti LaBelle, Peter Cetera, Frank Sinatra, and Tom Jones.

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Anka is also an accomplished actor, having appeared on film in “The Longest Day,” “3,000 Miles to Graceland,” “Captain Ron,” and on television’s “Las Vegas.”

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Anka had five daughters from his first marriage, finally having a son with his second wife.

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Anka became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1990.

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Anka continues to reinvent himself. An example is 2007’s album Rock Swings and now Classic Songs, My Way. On it he covers Eric Clapton, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, and more.

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Photos courtesy of Rick Farrell, Mojo Photography, Riverside, RI

 
 

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