When the orchestra began playing the overture for the show, last night at Merriweather Post Pavilion, the excitement mounted. Middle-aged women rushed to the front of the stage to catch a glimpse of the star and, for a moment, the entire crowd seemed to hold its breath.

Suddenly, he appeared -- Perry Como!

Well, it wasn't exactly "suddenly" -- it was more like, slowly. Ambling across the stage, he nonchalantly acknowledged the applause and looked about absent-mindedly for the microphone. Perry (would anyone dare call him "Como"?) isn't exactly a magnetic performer. In fact, if he were anymore relaxed he would probably be comatose.

Ah, but when he sings. He began with a whisper and never ventured beyond a warm and reassuring sigh. His soft, low voice wrapped itself around the lyrics and melted into smooth, melodic phrases that seemed to ravish the mind and the ear. From the upbeat songs like "I Believe in Music" to his haunting version of "The Way We Were" Perry's singing held the crowd in a spell that was broken only by his occasional jokes and hilarious double takes (probably the longest in show biz).

At the end of his show, when he sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" everyone rose to their feet as if lifted by the elegance of his voice and style. There is excitement, of course -- and then there is Perry Como.

Perry Como will also be appearing tonight .