TO ask any singer to do justice to the songs of the great Frank Sinatra is always going to be a tough ask but Matt Ford, arguably the country’s leading big band vocalist, has proved that he is more than up to the task.

Matt will be starring in Simply Sinatra which comes to Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Sunday backed by a 27-piece concert orchestra.

“For a singer of my type, he was the best and the most famous and most popular so to be representing his music is a real thrill,” said Matt who has worked with the Syd Lawrence and John Wilson Orchestras.

“There are people who would kill to do this job, so I am under no illusion. I am very lucky to be able to do this.”

A former winner of the Best UK Male Big Band Vocalist award, Matt recognises it would be foolish for him to even try to do an impression of Frank Sinatra on stage.

“I don’t do the hat or the Scotch and that kind of stuff,” he said. “There are some people out there who do it and do it very well but that’s not for me. I’m not that kind of artist.

“What I’m trying to do is sing in the appropriate style and sing the stories of the songs as effectively as he did.”

Performing Sinatra songs on a regular basis has enabled Matt to assess what makes Old Blue Eyes so special.

“He was a pioneer,” he said. “Bing Crosby was arguably the first crooner to make it big but Sinatra took it to a different level. He gave the crooners attitude.

“He took the songs and made them stories and made them sound personal to him. He really told those stories and convinced the listener that he’d been there and that it was his heartache and his joy. That was so innovative at the time.”

Matt uses the term crooner quite freely which many may find surprising as it is often used in a derogatory sense.

“For many years I begrudged people calling me a crooner but now I’ve learned to embrace it,” he said. “It’s a style of singing. They sometimes call it easy listening but it’s not necessarily easy singing. Technically you have to have a lot of control. People think it’s so easy, but there is a lot more to it.”

In Simply Sinatra, Matt will be performing in front of some of the country’s finest big band musicians.

“You have this massive wall of sound behind you.” he said. “Big bands are loud enough but for this I have a 27-piece showband - that’s another level.”

The show will also feature ballroom dance champions Chris and Emma Burrell and West End star Victoria Hamilton-Barritt who will perform some duets with Matt.

“It’s a complete show,” said Matt. “I think audiences expect more spectacle now and we’re certainly giving them that.

“It’s really special to sing in front of a large orchestra. I’ve been doing this job for many years and I still have to pinch myself. I realise I’m a lucky boy and I appreciate that.”

For Simply Sinatra, Matt has rehearsed with conductor Richard Balcombe and pianist.

“When we get to the day of the performance there is a three-hour rehearsal with the band but fortunately I have worked with many of these guys over the years.

“I’ll turn up on the day and it will be like an old friends’ reunion. To turn round and see smiling faces in the band makes a massive difference.

“Add to that you always get such a great crowd at the Bridgewater Hall. When you get 2,000 people all cheering and clapping, that’s very special.”

Simply Sinatra, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Sunday, November 4. Details from 0161 907 9000 or