Villagers Elaine Gorby and Mary Jane Puleo were tripping through time Wednesday night during the Engelbert Humperdinck concert at The Sharon.
The calendar may read 2016, but for the longtime “Humper” fans it’s 1967 all over again. That’s the year “Release Me” hit No. 1 on the charts and made a guy previously known as Gerry Dorsey a star.
The once, dark, dashing, romantic singer with the long black sideburns, bedroom eyes and funny name is 79. The hair is grayer and the body a bit plumper. But the voice, charisma and sex appeal still turn up the heat and turn back the clock for his loyal fans.
All through the 75-minute concert, you could hear female screams of delight, along with hooting, whistling and hollering. Just like the old days.
“His voice is just fabulous and he looks great; close your eyes and you feel like you’re back in 1967,” Puleo said. Midway through the concert, she raced to the front of the stage to present Engelbert with roses. The singer smiled and gave her a kiss. “Awesome,” she said.
Gorby once shared another intimate public moment with Engelbert back in 1985. He called her up to a Las Vegas stage and sang a love song to her. She carried an 8 by 10 picture of that moment to The Sharon.
“I was an Engelbert groupie and I still think he is the sexiest voice alive,” Gorby said. “With Engelbert, it’s not about age; it’s about his talent, personality and sex appeal. He’s still got it.”
Engelbert takes all this in stride. He likes to poke fun at himself and just about everything else. Once, he went to the front of the stage to pick up a note, and had a hard time getting back up.
“I’m not as young as I used to be,” he said. “My (back) hurts.” Then he talked about Florida. “I like the four seasons in Florida: you’ve got summer, summer, summer and ‘under construction.’”
Engelbert even goofed on his one-time singing rival, Tom Jones. “He’s old, he doesn’t look good,” Engelbert said and then started shaking his hips as he sang Jones’ hit, “It’s Not Unusual.” Then he imitated his close, late friend Dean Martin, who once gave him this advice: “never go on stage sober.”
There were lots of laughs but Engelbert is serious about his music. He has sold over 150 million records during his career and made nearly 80 albums. That makes him one of the most successful recording artists of all time.
He opened the show with a couple of his soft, romantic standards: “Another Time, Another Place” and “Am I That Easy to Forget,” soon followed by “After the Lovin’.”
Engelbert was accompanied by a young, tight seven-piece band, and a two, dynamic female backup singers. All of them gave a jolt of energy to the music and the stage show.
Engelbert showed some bounce in his steps during choreography on “Quando, Quando, Quando.” He donned a black cowboy hat and turned Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” into kind of a country-flavored boot-scootin’ boogie. He then sang a recorded duet with Elton John on “Something About the Way You Look Tonight.” It’s from the duet album, “Engelbert Calling.”
At one point, Engelbert pulled out his cellphone to take selfie with a fan. An elderly woman was helped to the side of the stage but couldn’t get on the stage. So Engelbert came over and lay down on his back so he could get his face next to the woman. The crowd gave that act an ovation.
Engelbert closed with a medley of some of his biggest hits: “The Last Waltz,” “This Moment in Time,” “There Goes My Everything” and “Spanish Eyes.”
That set the stage for the final song: “Release Me.”
“Forty-nine years ago on this date in January, the song ‘Release Me’ came out,” Engelbert said. “It’s a big day for me. I’m very lucky. Without that song, I wouldn’t be here tonight.”
After a long, standing ovation, Engelbert sang an encore, covering the old Ray Price weeper, “For the Good Times.”
But he still wasn’t finished. Engelbert put on a long, red bathrobe and pulled out red handkerchiefs from his pockets and tossed them to a crowd that howled with delight.
“He always had the voice and he always sang good songs,” Villager Tony Lanzone said. “We haven’t seen him in 30 years but he set a standard,” added his wife, Marilyn.
Engelbert Humperdinck lived up to that standard Wednesday at The Sharon.