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COMO'S CROONING STRIKES LUCKY NOTE FOR FANS

Born the seventh son of a seventh son, Perry Como's legendary good luck extended to a Shea's Buffalo Theater audience that had the good fortune Saturday night to be present for a rare "Perry Como Holiday Show."

For anyone born before "Married With Children" or "The Simpsons," the holiday season didn't officially start until Como's yearly Christmas show. For years, ever since he stopped doing television on a regular basis, theater owners have been trying to persuade Como to do a Christmas concert tour.

This year a lot of boys and girls past 50 must have been very good throughout the year, because Como is playing Santa Claus by giving his very first Christmas concert show in selected cities around the country.

Como's television successes date back to the '60s, when "Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall" on NBC became the No. 1 show of its time period for many seasons. His casual approach to a ballad and his smooth and relaxed manner have not changed during his 57 years in show business.

From the moment he stepped out on the Shea's stage before a full orchestra, an intense love affair clearly was going on with the audience. His style is so easygoing it's hard to believe that even the coming of the next millennium would cause him to do anything more strenuous than bat an eyelash.

His smooth voice has lost little over the years. If there's one overriding quality to his music, it's a sincere delivery that transcends vocal quality and makes each song a brief and intimate shared moment with his audience.

Opening with a two-song medley, "Sitting on Top of The World" and "Hello Young Lovers," he delivered a crooning message that seemed to imply that each song was chosen to reveal his feelings about a variety of subjects ranging from love to fatherhood.

"Where or When," for instance, brought to mind the chance encounter of old friends or lovers who reminisce about the first time they met but can't remember where or when. The final note brought an acknowledgment of understanding from a female fan who shouted, "You're number one, Perry. Always."

Como returned the compliment in his next song, "And I Love You So." It was obvious that the audience and the performer not only were in love with one another but also deeply simpatico.

A version of "Wind Beneath My Wings," which Como called the best song written in the past 10 years -- "unless you're a rock fan," caused enough misty eyes to make the humidity in the landmark theater rise.

Of course, the Christmas medley at the end, which included a sing-along, brought the evening to a perfect conclusion.

Few, if any, singers around, either young or old, can sing with the honesty and integrity of the ex-barber from Canonsburg, Pa. If you miss those old-time Como Christmas Shows, you have a chance to see him perform this afternoon.

REVIEW
Perry Como Holiday Show

Saturday night in Shea's Buffalo Theater; repeat performance at 3 p.m. today.

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