Frankie Valli is a master of understatement.
"We've had an extraordinary career and an awful lot of hits," Valli said Tuesday during a sweetly nostalgic performance at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
Valli's distinctive voice is a fantastically ethereal instrument. Piercing to the cusp of shrillness, Valli's warbling seemed unnaturally perfect on Tuesday. He never missed a note and sang with a strength that belied his 78 years. The disconnect between the visuals and sound in Muriel Kauffman Theatre called Valli's claim to be out of breath after a strident rendition of "Beggin'" into question. Either his voice has retained all of its youthful vigor or Valli was benefiting from electronic enhancement.
Valli and a youthful version of the Four Seasons were backed by an eleven-piece band that included a six-man horn section. The sound was crisp but oddly thin. While the origin of the sound is unclear, the quality of the music and the enthusiasm with which it was delivered was incontestable. A rousing rendition of "Who Loves You" compelled many in the audience of about 1,400 to dance. Ushers initially attempted to quell the spontaneous eruption of enthusiasm, but Valli managed to keep much of the audience on their feet for the remainder of the 110-minute performance.Valli and the Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in part because its approach bridged the gap between Valli's fellow New Jersey natives Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen. Valli referenced Sinatra in his introduction to "I've Got You Under My Skin." Even so, sublimely schmalzy material including the 1974 hits "My Eyes Adored You" and "Swearin' To God" were more akin to the styles associated with pop crooners like Paul Anka and Jack Jones. Much of the material, however, is truly timeless. The orchestral sweep of "Rag Doll," recreated to great effect Tuesday, clearly served as a blueprint for Springsteen's "Born To Run." The 1962 chart topper "Big Girls Don't Cry" and the sassy saunter of "Walk Like a Man" have lost none of their charm.
The sole sour note of the evening came in the form of a slightly bitter anecdote in which Valli disparaged hip-hop. To paraphrase his song, Valli should "walk like a man as fast as he can" from such trivial concerns.
Setlist: “Grease,” “Dawn (Go Away),” “Save it For Me,” “Tell it to the Rain,” “Beggin’,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “My Eyes Adored You,” “Swearin’ to God,” “Fallen Angel,” “Call Me,” “Let it Be Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” “My Girl/Groovin’,” “The Night,” “Silence Is Golden,” “Working My Way Back to You,” “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’Bout Me),” “Who Loves You,” “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” “Can’t Take My Eyes off You,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye),” “Rag Doll,” “Let’s Hang On!”| Bill Brownlee, Speical to The Star