On Friday night during the 6th day of his 7 day residency at the Broadway Theater, Frankie Valli mentioned Frank Sinatra twice, but Gaudio was nowhere to be found. Wrote "Sherry", "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Walk Like A Man", "Oh What A Night", "Dawn (Go Away)," "Ronnie," "Rag Doll," "Save It for Me," "Big Man in Town," "Bye Bye Baby," "Girl Come Running," "Beggin'," "Silence Is Golden and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". The latter a song Valli would call of great importance to him before a rousing version, because it was his first solo hit. On opening night, New York Post reported: "He also thrilled the crowd when he pointed out his former partner Bob Gaudio, sitting there in the audience." Now, THAT IS A REUNION!
With every opportunity for Valli, the lead singer of the legendary Four Singers who along with Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi were the best selling singles act of the 1960s, to reaffirm the bands preeminence in the world of popular music, he performed a poorly constructed set of misses, hits, plus some prime 60s hits to cash in on his resurrected fame due to the Broadway show "Jersey Boys" (a much more compelling look at his and the rest of the bands career) around the corner on West 52nd street. I realize that's too harsh, but I'm disappointed. It felt like he missed it.
I knew we were in trouble when he opened the set with "Grease". "Grease"? Sure, it was a big hit but it wasn't in any sense a Four Seasons songs and while mid-show, fine, but first song? He followed that with half an hour minor league Seasons before two songs from 1974 steadied the ship. "My Eyes Adored You" was a pleasure and "Swearin' To God" was a touch overwrought with three members of the 16 piece orchestra getting solos. He ended the first half with a clutch of songs off his 2007 covers album Romancing The '60s. Pleasant enough, though the definition of redundant.
It is obvious Valli is holding back on the good stuff for a slam bang finish and it is simply not a great idea, hold back four songs, fine, but all of them? What is he thinking of? I could write a better set in my sleep… using the same damn songs. That's the kick, but her here is the kicker, the band are terrific and the arrangements excellent. Sax player Rick Keller is especially good. As for Frankie Valli, watching that iconic falsetto emerge intact from that 78 year old man, it is amazing. Amazing he is still doing it, still hitting the notes.
After the intermission, I am ready for Valli to steady the ship o seasons. Frankie has changed from a stunning gray suit to a crushed velvet purple jacket and a polo neck sweater. His back up singers, are dressed the same except the jackets are black. I've managed to mainly ignore the four guys mainly because they've been stuck to the side carrying the tenor, baritone and bass parts. But in the second half they are front and center, looking like they've just stuck on some pants after a matinee of "Naked Boys Singing". They weren't bad singers, not at all, but they were a visual impairment for the middle aged straight impaired majority of the audience. Why on earth was Valli providing eye candy? This reached a bottomless crevasse with undoubtedly the worst "Oh What A Night" over recorded anywhere by anyone at anytime. A major embarrassment. Frankie also uses this time to introduce the band and singers in a way too long momentum killing moment. Finally, he offers some boiler plate rubbish about other countries thinking the US is a weak nation and, not rubbish, about the "Wounded Warrior Project" helping returning servicemen.
But "Night" aside, the set had been building to this run of hits, this was it folks, the dream we all dream of: all the hits Valli has held off (except… no "Let;s Hang On?) one after the other like throwing dollar coins in a slot machine and coming up cherries time after time. This is not a cover band, not with that voice and not with these arrangements by musical director and best friend of 34 years, Robby Robertson. And they aren't a medley, Frankie gives every song its due. It ends with the old Bay City Rollers hit "Bye Bye Baby" before a finishing end "Stay (Just A Little Bit Longer)". Best moment: maybe "Silence Is Golden".
To have this much left to give at the age of 78 is incredible and more power to the man. But as long as he is going to do it, maybe a Valli through the years or maybe get the old band back for a couple of songs… This is the fourth time I've seen the legend, and the worst, the first time was in 1990 during a Sunday matinee at radio City Music Hall. I left not overjoyed but happy to have seen him again.
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