Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in the 1960s.
Don’t let my unapologetic devotion to crappy pop music fool you; I’m a fan of many genres of music, especially oldies—the music of my parents’ youth. While my friends were listening to Hootie and the Blowfish, Janet Jackson, TLC, and Coolio in middle school, I had my radio tuned to KRTH 101, played the Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, and Bobby Darin to pump myself up at swim meets, and memorized Beatles lyrics (I listened to Rubber Soul virtually every day in 8th grade). So I was very excited to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in concert last night at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
I never know what kind of concert experience to expect when I see musicians who are decades past their prime. I’m just excited that I’m going to see music icons, and if they happen to remember all the lyrics to hits they had forty years ago and not fall down on stage, that’s icing on the cake. Regardless of whether or not they’ve still “got it,” it’s a thrill to see them perform. I’ve been lucky enough to see some American legends in concert—Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett…and some definitely sounded better than others.
The thing is, after all these years, Franki Valli is still sprightly on stage and sounds incredible! His famous voice is still clear and distinct, and not only did he sing well, he performed well. Frankie is a born showman—he took time to shake every single person’s hand in the front row, told a few stories, encouraged the audience to sing and dance, and thanked everyone for coming with enough sincerity that it almost brought tears to my eyes.
And the Four Seasons sounded great, too. They’re obviously not the original Four Seasons, but four charming young men who looked and sounded sharp. Their slick finger snapping, synchronized feet tapping, and wonderful harmonizing would give any doo-wop group of the ‘50s or ‘60s a run for their money. I could tell they were having a blast being on stage singing with Frankie.
Accompanied by a 10-person band, they sang all the hits we were hoping to hear, including Grease, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Rag Doll, Oh What a Night, Let’s Hang On, Candy Girl, Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, and Sherry. They also performed a medley of Groovin’ and My Girl. Yes, many of these songs are cheesy and have kitschy rhymes that tell silly stories, but they are so fun…it’s music that just makes you feel good.
I'm sure I was the youngest person at the show; most people from my generation are probably more familiar with Heath Ledger’s version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” from the film 10 Things I Hate About You than Frankie Valli’s version. But I actually got a kick out of seeing these older people who were so excited to see Frankie. His music was the soundtrack to the best years of their lives, and seeing them smiling and swaying in their seats made me hope that I have that much fun when I’m their age. Oh, what a night!