Up until the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” chronicled the dramatic ascent and shortcomings of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, its fearless leader was slogging it out somewhere in the middle of the oldies circuit. But once it became a blockbuster not only in New York, but also Chicago and all around the world, the singer with one of the highest voices in history climbed right back up to his justified slot on the A-list, staging his own residency on The Great White Way and regularly touring through esteemed venues such as Ravinia.
For the final stretch, Frankie Valli mined back to the Four Seasons’ doo wop beginnings under the street lamp, replicating “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with a wide range and all the requisite dance steps.
During his encore appearance following last year’s instant sell out, nearly every selection was an immediately recognizable hit, and despite being 83-years-old, Valli turned in at least two-dozen tunes (only briefly leaving the stage to change his sport coat). Although his voice may have thinned ever so slightly, it was remarkable he can still belt straight up to the heavens, while also staying razor sharp in conversation.
The only hiccup throughout the near two-hour night came from a few of his eight musicians, mainly the two keyboard players whose tunings sounded like they were coming straight out of a carnival or a low-budget karaoke CD. Along with some corny banter from the current generation of Four Seasons, the tone was more akin to something coming out of Branson than say the slicker Las Vegas, but no one seemed to notice, if only for the fact that they were in the presence of a man whose group may as well have been as big as The Beatles prior to the British Invasion.
Anyone seeking proof could find plenty in the opening video highlight reel, followed by the set list itself, which was steadily stocked with “Who Loves You,” “Working My Way Back To You” and “Dawn (Go Away)” from the onset. Prior to “Silence Is Golden,” Valli remarked “we love doing it when there’s a lot of political turmoil and we like to dedicate it to the people in politics,” a theme which was also explored prior to “Harmony, Perfect Harmony” with the reminder “we are a family and we should always act that way regardless of who our president is…”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also talked about returning to the recording studio for “Romancing The ‘60s” and how he arrived at the decision to remake his favorite songs because he doesn’t like the tone of modern radio, even going so far as to demonstrate how foolish he would’ve sounded making a rap record. A medley of Ben E. King’s “Spanish Harlem,” The Temptations’ “My Girl” and The Young Rascals’ “Groovin’” was obviously a more appropriate and welcome decision, while his own “Grease,” “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” further reminded everyone he’s accumulated no shortage of personal airtime.
For the final stretch, Valli mined back to the Four Seasons’ doo wop beginnings under the street lamp, replicating “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with a wide range and all the requisite dance steps. As he crooned “Let’s Hang On,” it was evident this boy from Jersey is going to keep on going as long as he’d like, and in the meantime, promised the Big Apple and the Windy City would both be getting another visit from the four-time Tony Award winner that put him back on the global map.
For additional information on Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, visit FrankieValliFourSeasons.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Ravinia include Stevie Nicks (Sept. 9-10); Smokey Robinson (Sept. 15) and “I Love The 90s” starring TLC, Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, Biz Markie, All-4-One, O-Town and Snap! (Sept. 16). For additional details, visit Ravinia.org.