With 100 million records sold by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (worldwide since its inception), this is the first time I was able to appreciate their music in-person. In 2009, I was in Chicago and saw Broadway’s Jersey Boys, the story behind The Four Seasons. Yet, seeing the performance live tonight at Wolf Trap was a complete mind-blower. The place was packed, both inside and on the lawn, which translates to about 7,000 people in attendance. I could feel the excitement and rush of adrenalin as I and my fellow audience members impatiently waited for the lights to dim. When the lights finally did and went back up two hours later, I could honestly say the evening was not only a home run, but a grand slam out of America’s National Park for the Performing Arts.
Frankie’s initial communication with the audience was “Hello everybody, are you ready?” After the audience’s resounding “YES,” the concert or maybe better said the “reunion” went on for what seemed forever, which was fine for us – we would have stayed all night. As the performers began the set with “Grease,” followed by “Dawn,” “Tell it to the Rain,” “Beggin’,” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Swearing to God,” “Fallen Angel,” “Save it for Me,” “Call Me,” “Let it Be Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” and “My Girl,” one song after the other, the excitement level was even higher than at the outset.
At this point in the show, Frankie said he wanted to dedicate the next song to his personal idol and inspiration. One night Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were performing at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida while Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter were next door at the Eden Roc. With a special emphasis on the brass section, the band played while the group sang “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” which Cole Porter wrote in 1936 and became a signature song for ‘Old Blue Eyes.’ It later became a top hit for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in 1966.
Frankie continued with “Stay,” “Silence is Golden,” “Working My Way Back to You,” “Don’t You Worry About Me Girl,” “Rag Doll,” “Who Loves You?,” and “Oh What a Night.”
Before Frankie began singing solo “Can’t Take my Eyes Off of You” he reminded the audience that this was the song that earned him a gold record and also hit #2 on the Billboard charts in 1967. Frankie encouraged the audience to join him in a sing-along and we all took him up on his offer. “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Bye-bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye),” and then the encore song “Hang On” That’s 27 songs and I’m not plagiarizing their 21st song when I reiterate…OH WHAT A NIGHT!
Frankie’s multi-octave range is rare and I just sat there marveling the command this man has of almost four octaves. Frankie Valli will be 80 next year and he is still vocally phenomenal. At times, Frankie would be singing different lyrics than the back-up singers, which really made me appreciate the rehearsal time involved to insure perfect timing and pitch in performing a show of this nature. The exceptional Four Seasons talents of Todd Fournier, brothers Brian and Brandon Brigham, and Landon Beard provide the backup vocal harmonies. At times, they stood on a low riser in front of the orchestra stage left while in other songs they joined Frankie center stage with their gyrating bodies and hand movements adding to the evening’s beat. Behind them were the 10 members of the band consisting of two electric guitars, 3 saxophones, a trombone, 2 trumpets, and one fantastic conductor by the name of Robbie Robinson, who also played keyboards. Robbie has been with Frankie for over 34 years. Some of the band members demonstrated their instrument dexterity, like Rick Keller who played multiple instruments (clarinet, flute, and oboe) throughout the evening, and was also a featured soloist in “Silence is Golden.”
Nobody in their wildest dreams (except probably Frankie Valli) would have ever thought that the Broadway show Jersey Boys, which provides the authorized history of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, would in the process introduce their music to a whole new generation. Tonight’s audience consisted of a very diverse spectrum of young and old and I’m sure one of the reasons for this diversity is because Jersey Boys has been playing since 2005 having won 4 Tony Awards in 2006. Besides playing on Broadway, the show has numerous touring companies playing worldwide and is playing as I write this review on its USA road tour in Des Moine, Iowa (for the second time). It was not surprising when Frankie Valli turned to the audience after one of his songs and said, “I’m just Frankie Valli, and I’m a Jersey Boy.”
Running time: Two hours, with no intermission.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons played on July 21, 2013 for one night only at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center – 1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For future performances and information, call (877) 965-3872), or check their calendar of events.