You know it’s a special kind of evening when Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart cracks jokes and Seth MacFarlane makes music. And when the rafters of Symphony Hall are filled with the majestic strains of Led Zeppelin.
It turns out that MacFarlane, the wiseguy voice behind “Family Guy,” is also a serious Frank Sinatra fan. And as the Pops opened its season last night, his hour-long guest set saluted Sinatra, his favorite arrangers and even his musicians — one of whom was there onstage: MacFarlane’s bassist Chuck Berghofer played on Frank’s “Strangers in the Night” — and last night he also demonstrated the famous riff he contributed to daughter Nancy’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”
While MacFarlane isn’t quite Ol’ Blue Eyes as a singer, he proved more than capable on the character pieces and the swingers. The Billy May arrangement of “Moonlight on the Ganges” called less for virtuoso singing than for personality and a sense of play, which he and Lockhart have in abundance.
MacFarlane played it straight last night, but not too straight: There were plenty of comic zingers between songs, including a few at Donald Trump’s expense. He pulled out his “Family Guy” and “American Dad” voices for a highly non-traditional version of “One For My Baby (And One More for the Road”). Best of all, he dared to cover Sinatra’s notorious version of “Mrs. Robinson,” which takes some hilarious liberties with Paul Simon’s original lyric.