25/02/2008 by Charles Alexander
Thanks for a wonderful Lincoln Center show, John. I expected to enjoy it. I didn’t expect to be totally blown away.
Frankly, I figured it would be the mellow ’60s, Bacharach-type stuff like the Barry Manilow album. I mean nobody even attempts the most challenging ’60s singing anymore except for the casts of Jersey Boys. And at the play you have to wonder how much of the sound is the product of Broadway’s technical wizards.
Boy, was I wrong about what you were going to do in your solo debut. From the first riffs of “Lightnin’ Strikes,” I knew this was the real deal in all its power and glory. And then “Cara Mia”? I knew you were going for the gold. How thrilling to see that you have not retreated from the falsetto but have embraced and mastered it. With your incredible voice, you have all by yourself revived a very popular style of virtuoso singing that was wiped out–except for Barry Gibb–by the likes of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, who, while marvelous in their own ways, are what I would call anti-singers.
Is this a f*cking time machine or what? While your show had terrific variety, from Sam Cooke to Santana, it managed to include all my very favorite hit-the-stratosphere singers: not only Frankie but Lou Christie, Jay Black, Del Shannon and Gene Pitney. And, yes, I admit to loving Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, even if their lyrics were, as you said in one of your many deft laugh lines, “disgusting.” At least you chose “Young Girl,” in which the guy is trying to be good, instead of “Lady Willpower,” in which the guy was up to no good. I swear to you that before the encores I turned to my wife Cathy and whispered, “All that’s left is Roy Orbison.” Whereupon you launched into “Crying.” It was as if the contents of my brain had been firewired to your lips. What nerve you have to do that show. What talent to pull it off so beautifully.
Of course, after conquering all the great male singers, you finished with “When Will I See You Again?” by The Three Degrees, hitting all the same notes. What’s next? Whitney Houston? This could get out of control.
I really hope you take this show on the road so everyone can enjoy it. As I’ve written about the first night I saw Jersey Boys, your solo turn was a religious experience. I thank you from the bottom of my soul. Early in the show I knew for sure that you weren’t the product of Broadway sound wizards but the genuine second coming of Frankie Valli. By the end of the show I realized that you are the second coming of half of the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. Best of luck in everything you do.
A fan for life,