Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

 

FRANKIE VALLI AND THE FOUR SEASONS

 

Concert review

 

By Gary Murray

 

The terms “icons” and ‘legends” are tossed around like graffiti at a 5 year-olds’ birthday party.  We live in a disposable world where songs and artists are thrown around more like tissue paper than something tangible and meaningful.  The pop stars of 2011 will be the has-beens of 2012. 

 

That is why a group like The Four Seasons is so special.  For almost three decades, this musical quartet fronted by Frankie Valli has been a part of the top of the charts. Starting in 1962, these popular rockers began a string of hits that ran well into the 1970s. 

 

The kids from New Jersey made music for the working man, tunes with tight harmonies and monster hooks that were a part of the Cultural Revolution without being overtly political.  To the youth audience, they were as important as The Beach Boys and The Beatles.   

 

Jersey Boys the musical– has given the music of The Four Seasons a second life.  The story of the band has been turned a dramatic interpretation, starting with the rise of the group.  We get the ends and outs of the band tensions and how the music was written.  The play ends with their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

 

Lucky for music fans everywhere, Frankie Valli is still on tour and brought his brand of hits to the Opera House in Dallas on September 28th.  The audience was full of older members, the kind of people who probably bought 45 rpm records of The Four Seasons as a kid. 

 

The show opened with “Grease” one of the last radio hits from the solo career of Frankie Valli and truly the weakest number of the night.  The band consisted of eleven musicians and four back-up singers to the left of the stage.  All of the men were dressed in black.

 

Frankie Valli commanded the stage, a small man with a shimmering voice.  Even after decades of constant touring, his vocal instrument was still a high-pitched shimmering beacon of purity.  During the two hours on stage, his voice never faltered or wavered.  He kept his stage presence very old school, just standing under the lights and singing.  There was not much movement except to shake the hands of everyone in the first row of the audience. 

 

Frankie went on to some of the biggest hits of his varied career with “Dawn (go Away)”, “Save it for me,” and “Tell it to the Rain.”   There are so many hits the group could have played and still not have hit every highlight of their career.  The Four Seasons have a vast catalogue to work with.

 

The group used the middle of the concert to push their latest release, a disc of 1960s standards called Romancing the 1960s.  The audience was treated to a smattering of Motown singles and tunes such as “I’ve got you under my Skin” and “Rose in Spanish Harlem.”

 

About half way though the show, the back-up singers took the line behind Frankie and danced with snappy Four Seasons/Jersey Boys style moves.  It was as close to the originals as we will ever see.  The entire band was given separate moments to shine on the wonderful group song “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night).”  It was one of many moments where the entire audience was cheering.

 

The listeners were treated to some of the biggest hits from the 1960-70s, with tunes like “Working My way Back to you,” “Can’t take my Eyes off of you,” and “Who Loves you.”  One of the true highlights was the song “You’re Ready Now” a solo hit in England that didn’t chart in the US. 

 

The biggest and oldest tunes were saved for the last.  “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” were the knock-out punches of the night.  By the time the show ended with “Rag Doll” there was not a person in their seat.

 

Few of the original pioneers of rock & roll still tour.  It is important that we honor them and see a master showman practicing the craft.   No one knows how long Frankie Valli will be on the road but this is a concert that should not be missed. 

 

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