Wayne Newton’s debut last night (Dec. 8) at Blue Note Hawaii was largely reflective and revealing, offering more chit-chat than crooning.

He’s headlining two more nights at the Outrigger Waikiki venue, at 6:30 p.m. today (Dec. 9) and tomorrow (Dec.10). The earlier announced 9 p.m. performances have been canceled.

Opening night was a near-sellout.

“Mr. Las Vegas,” as he’s widely known, remains a cordial trouper, but in this stage of his career, he appears to be more conversational than crooner. (Lest you forget, Newton also is known as the Midnight Idol).

He’s still got his chops, but the voice is not as potent and precise as his Vegas era.

Perhaps that’s why he’s utilizing vintage video (two screens, one on each side of the stage) that captures his enterprising early years, often singing along (in the darkened stage) with the filmed versions. It’s like he’s in his living room, showing clips of his accomplishments, with a retinue of dear friends.

The Honolulu audiences don’t seem to mind this format.

Opening with “Viva Las Vegas,” an anthem to Sin City,  Newton was backed by a pianist, a bassist, and a drummer, not the large orchestras he was accustomed to in his heyday as a kingpin of the strip.

He was a namedropper, too, with a purpose: so many show biz veterans have had his back over the decades, principally Jack Benny, who “discovered” him and booked Newton on his TV show, and Jackie Gleason, who saw that show, and gave him a break by enlisting his talent as his opening act.

One particular secret unveiled: he became buddies with Bobby Darin, who produced Newton’s albums for seven years, and the “Mack the Knife” singer “gave” Newton a tune that was supposed to be recorded by Darin, who wanted Newton to have a hit song: “Danke Schoen.”

Strangely, “Danke” was one of four of his biggest hits, but Newton performed it as a sing-along with a taped version, a formula he utilized with three other chartbusters: “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” “Summer Wind,” and “Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast” with LP covers displayed on the video screens.

Of the titles he sang, “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night” were no-fuss highlights.

His vignettes were often fascinating, like how he met Elvis Presley at the Paramount studios, while they were filming separate projects; how he befriended Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, who became a lifetime friend till his passing; his takes on Dean Martin (“he smokes a lot”) and Sammy Davis Jr. (“he comes up to here,” referencing his short height); and  Bob Hope (“he brings happiness to your soul,” for his well-documented tours to the war fronts, namely Vietnam).

Newton plays 13 instruments, a feat he demonstrated in his Vegas shows, but at Blue Note, he only displayed his prowess on guitar, violin and steel guitar. On the latter, he played “Lovely Hula Hands,” in homage to Hawaii.

He didn’t mention earlier island ties, however, that he married, but divorced Elaine Okamura, a Honolulan who was a flight attendant, and he played – well before his Vegas fame – at the Dunes supperclub and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel’s Monarch Room.

His final song, “My Way,” often attributed to Ol’ Blue Eyes since the lyrics, written by Paul Anka for Sinatra, reflected the highs and lows of life, which resonates as an anthem by many entertainers.

So: If you’ve been a Newton fan from the early years, you’ll find the stories he shares fascinating, and you’ll mark him as a survivor of the roller-coaster ride of a seasoned trouper….

And that’s Show Biz…

Wayne Newton

Where: Blue Note Hawaii, Outrigger Waikiki resort

When: 6:30 p.m. today (Dec. 9) and tomorrow (Dec. 10);  doors open at 5 p.m.

Tickets: $125 (premium seats) and $85 (loge and bar zone), at www.bluenotehawaii.com and (808) 777-4890.

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