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Frankie Valli (review)

Short Description of Frankie Valli (review)

By Stacey Morris

ALBANY, N.Y. – It was a reverent and orderly crowd of Frankie Valli fans who gathered Thursday evening to hear the legend perform in front of a packed hours of nearly 3,000 in the elegant, art deco Palace Theatre.


There’s no intermission,” an usher pleasantly explained as she guided a middle-aged couple to their seats. “And you can expect about a 90-minute show.” She got it half right.


Valli, the current incarnation of The Four Seasons, and their 11-piece band took to the stage with a brisk, studio-perfect version of “Grease,” and built the momentum with each ensuing homage to the musical career of a living legend. Valli’s sound and style have been imitated by the Beach Boys, Billy Joel, and others. But on Thursday, the audience got the original…in the flesh. Mesmerized women still craned their necks for a better look. Men sang along. And no intermission was desired or required, despite the fact that the band played for nearly two hours.


A pretty remarkable fact given that the front man is now in his eighth decade and has never stopped recording or touring. Thursday’s crowd was mostly the 50+ set, though there were certainly enough love-struck couples in their 20’s and 30’s who proved that Valli’s visceral falsetto still casts a romantic spell.


Clad in a designer three-piece suit, pale pink tie, and matching pocket hankie, the perfectly coiffed Valli belted out hits such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Dawn,” and “Working My Way Back To You.” Valli also regaled fans with a few B-Side songs, such as “The Night,” and “Silence Is Golden,” which he admitted were personal favorites despite not being commercial successes. And then there were selections, such as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” and “Swearin’ to God,” from his solo career.


Valli stopped often to reminisce about an illustrious career, and confided that when the time came to do an homage to another genre, he just couldn’t get into the rap and hip hop grooves so prevalent post-90’s. “So we did a 60’s tribute album,” he explained as he clutched the mic, and launched into a medly that included “Let It Be Me,” “A Rose in Spanish Harlem,” and “My Girl,” while the audience cheered.


Valli also showed a playful side as he mock-panted at the end of a song, alluding to his age. “I’m going to slow things down now,” he said, alluding to the slower pace of “My Eyes Adored You, “Because I need to.”


There were his childhood recollections of how a visit to Manhattan’s Paramount Theater with his mother at age 7 changed his life forever. “We went to see a singer named Francis Albert Sinatra,” said Valli. “I’d never seen so many women in one place in my life.”


His tribute to The Chairman of the Board was a lilting version of “Under My Skin,” first sung by Valli and his four back up singers and then lushly interpreted, Big Band-style, by the instrumentalists. Holding every number together flawlessly was keyboardist and musical director Robby Robinson, whose resume includes work with Frankie Avalon, The Commodores, and The Four Tops.


Valli and his band concluded the show with a medley of Four Seasons chart toppers, including “Walk Like A Man,” “Late December 63,” “Who Loves You?” and his final number, a rousing “Let’s Hang On.”


In spite of all the decades that have passed, he’s still the Frankie Valli we love, intense, focused, and in love with performing. He still loses himself, seemingly without effort, to merge with a soaring high note, leaning back, left arm dramatically extended for as long as he holds the note. But Valli also remains matter-of-fact about his legend status.


He reserves a portion of each concert to introduce every singer and musician to the audience, providing an anecdote about each one and saying where they hail from. After the final introduction is made, Valli looks out at the audience and smiles. “My name is Frankie Valli, and I’m just a Jersey Boy.” 

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