I was itching to call this review I Spent The Weekend With Johnny Mathis.
A guy can dream…
First, let me address the elephant in the room. No, you’re not imagining things: I attended Johnny Mathis’ Christmas show last Thursday in Stockton, California.
Yes, it was a lot of Mathis for one weekend, but no more than I’d have had sitting at home, listening to my Apple Music Christmas playlist. Mathis mesmerizes me, leaving me not knowing my right foot from my left or my hat from my glove.
It’s the same effect Mathis has had on the rest of the world for the last 63 years.
When the legend strolled out onto that San Jose Civic stage Saturday night in an immaculate grey double-breasted suit and crisp white open-collared shirt, I recalled his entrance two days earlier in Stockton, in khakis and a casual sweater. Both nights, he breezed into “Winter Wonderland” to start the shows. Last night, I realized that it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing when you sound like Johnny Mathis.
By the eve’s end, I also realized that no matter what I may tell myself when I’m singing “It’s Not For Me To Say” in the shower, I need to keep my day job: I will never sound like that.
Mathis’ set list was identical on both nights, as was the level of Yuletide cheer that he selfishly shared with his fans. This time around, the singer successfully tackled the lyrics to “Brazil,” depriving San Jose of one of Stockton’s funniest moments. He’d delivered those laughs twice earlier, joking from the stage about a pair of obstinate slacks that seemed determined to fall off of his still trim frame. Mathis avoided a wardrobe malfunction, but those pants put up a formidable fight!
The singer turned the lyric of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” a bit differently in San Jose, managed the final key change in “When A Child Is Born” like a champ, beautifully described St. Nick’s annual airborne trek during “The Christmas Song,” and made me tear up — again — with “Sending You A Little Christmas.” And the show’s closer, “It’s Christmas Time Again,” is a keeper.
But San Jose’s highlight, for me, didn’t come during a Christmas song. When Mathis, confidently perched atop a stool, crooned “Misty,” he left me, simply, as helpless as a kitten up a tree.
I’ll also share that as funny as comedian Brad Upton was just before Stockton’s intermission, he was even funnier in San Jose. The guy’s a hysterical, class act.
Mathis is wrapping up his 2019 Christmas shows with two concerts in Hawaii on December 20 and 21. As I write this, I’m sitting at a cafe in a Whole Foods in San Jose, the morning after, awaiting my train back to Sacramento, while my husband, at my request, is dutifully searching for flights to Honolulu next weekend.
Yes, Johnny Mathis’ Christmas show is THAT good.
And for those who like to plan ahead, Mathis has already announced a Christmas 2020 concert in the Chicago area.