Smooth-talkin' Benson gives good groove

Artist: George Benson

Venue: Kallang Theatre

Attendance: 1,600

When: Monday

SINGAPORE - At age 70, American jazz icon George Benson wanted to prove that he's still sexy at his latest Singapore outing on Monday night.

Then, Benson - who last played here in 2010 as part of the Singapore Sun Festival - showed that he still had some serious swagger.

Throughout the 100-minute show, the 10-time Grammy winner gyrated, swivelled his hips and lavished the ladies in the audience with lots of attention.

For instance, when a female admirer shouted of her love for him in between songs, Benson responded cheekily: "I heard that, lady. And I love you, too. You're the reason I'm here."

What a smooth-talker.

The Pittsburgh native, who got his start in the 1960s as a jazz guitarist, was obviously having fun.

And he didn't shy away from acknowledging his age.

"I better slow down before I fall down," he quipped, after kicking off the show with a couple of rollicking instrumentals, including Weekend In L.A. (1978).

From that point on, the man - dressed in a black mandarin-collared shirt and loose-fitting red trousers - was equal parts guitar virtuoso and soulful R&B Casanova.

He treated his audience - a more-mature crowd mostly in their 40s and 50s - to a string of groovy hits, such as Turn Your Love Around (1981), Kisses In The Moonlight (1986) and the ballad Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You (1985).

Benson's warm voice was rich and resonant, and he garnered cheers when he would broke into his signature spontaneous scatting (whereby he scats while simultaneously plucking the same notes on his guitar with amazing dexterity).

It was impossible not to bop along to the infectious, layered beats, which were flawlessly constructed by the musician and his stellar five-piece band, all esteemed musicians themselves.

By the last third of the show, the initially reserved crowd was shaking and shimmying to tunes like Give Me The Night and Love X Love (both 1980).

It seemed like they'd have happily continued grooving way beyond the closing song, a cover of The Drifters' 1963 classic, On Broadway, which was also a 1978 hit for Benson.

It just goes to show: The man still has it.

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