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Review: Frankie Valli brings the crowd to its feet at London’s O2 (Includes first-hand account)

I never tire of telling anybody who’ll listen that I was a huge fan of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons long before the award-winning jukebox musical Jersey Boys took Broadway and then the world by storm.

It was an absolute pleasure therefore to be in attendance at a packed O2 arena in London to witness first hand the diminutive 82-year-old who possesses one of the most distinctive voices – and one of the most enviable back catalogues – in pop.

A colourful video montage flashed up on a large screen at the back of the stage showing highlights from the member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s glittering 60-year career, including videos and photographs of him with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney and Cher.

The first song of the set was the glorious disco hit from 1975, “Who Loves You,” the perfect way to get things started. “We’re gonna go back to 1962, if that’s okay with everybody,” said Frankie, making it clear that we were going to be hearing nothing but the hits.

After further classics “Working My Way Back to You” and “Dawn (Go Away)” came the singer’s tribute to the great Frank Sinatra: his unique take on “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on stage at the O2  23/04/17

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on stage at the O2, 23/04/17

“We’re gonna slow it down because I need to!” said the star ahead of the gorgeously heartfelt “My Eyes Adored You.” “Grease” was as body-rockingly groovy as one would expect, while “My Girl/Groovin'” successfully combined two well-known songs into one.

A sublime rendition of “Silence Is Golden,” the b-side to 1964’s “Rag Doll,” was played to another great reception. “We won’t be doing that one tonight,” said Frankie of the latter.

The flawless vocalist rolled back the years, with help from a terrific band – led by his long-term musical director/arranger/keyboard player, Robby Robinson. Four skilled backing singers – the current ‘Four Seasons’ – helped get the crowd up on their feet dancing to “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” and the always rousing “Can’t Take My Eyes off You.”

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on stage at London s O2 arena  23/04/17

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on stage at London’s O2 arena, 23/04/17

Arguably saving the best till last – or thereabouts – the falsetto-friendly “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” came one after the other, a reminder that few bands could match The Four Seasons for consistency in 1962/63.

Just when I thought this wonderful evening had come to an end – with “Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye)” – Frankie came back out to sing “Rag Doll” (he’d lied about not playing it) and “Let’s Hang On!”

The master of his craft had earlier expressed his love for the UK and for his British fans, saying: “I wish you could all feel what I feel in my heart every time I come to the UK.” Just before leaving the stage, he yelled out “See you next year!” Let us hope that that is indeed the case, not just for 2018 but for many years to come.

For more on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, visit the official website.

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