"Atlantic City is home to me, as most of you know," said one of Jersey's favorite sons.
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, fresh off their big announcement (and Frankie's surprise appearance) that the musical Jersey Boys will be setting up shop from June 25 to July 21 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, had the near-capacity crowd at Etess Arena "Beggin'" for more Saturday night.
Valli, who would perform with the iconic Jersey Boys group in Atlantic City since their early days, made the seaside resort home again for the weekend.
Speaking of seaside resort, my grandmother would tell you that The Four Seasons would stay at her mother's shore house in Seaside Heights when my father was in elementary school back in the '60s and early '70s. No pictures have surfaced, but we'll take her word for it.
A video montage of Valli and The Four Seasons started off the performance, showing the original quartet singing from local joints to nationwide fame. Segments including their introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 as well as their opening up of the Jersey Boys Broadway show.
Then, the large backing band ran out on stage. That was then followed by the current Jersey Boys cast that tours with Valli. With perfectly groomed hair, in all black suits, the cast began their first song "Can't Take My Eyes off of You". Valli then walked stage, jumping right into the song. His black velvet suit jacket caused the crowd to yell and cheer. One person stood up with their hand out, ready to receive their near-religious experience.
Husbands and wives, girl groups, guy groups and more made their way to the resort, yearning to reminiscence back to the era which made Valli a superstar. One woman spoken to said, "I'm on of those 'I remember when' people. .. I'm from Belleville," a nod to the area where Valli earned his stripes.
Those of all ages enjoyed, though. Two women celebrated their 21st birthdays with Valli, and young couples, who know likely know The Four Seasons more from their Grammy and Tony Award winning musical than the peak of Valli's fame, were cheering and clapping just as loud of the rest of the audience.
The two-hour performance brought out all of the sensational hits that made Valli of the most iconic musical stars of all-time. "Who Loves You," "Sherry," "Beggin," and more were all played. Valli even offered a tribute to fellow Italian-American singer-superstar Frank Sinatra with "I've Got You Under My Skin." "My Girl" by the Temptations also created a sing-a-long.
The loudest applause and standing ovation may have come when Valli introduced a song that, as he said, helped kick off a movie too. That was, of course, "Grease." People jumped to their feet to move and dance along to the 1978 hit about midway through the performance.
"My Eyes Adored You," the 1974 single that brought The Four Seasons out of a slow down in their careers, brought one of the most intriguing combinations of the new and old schools together. Smartphone screens held high in the air, the light waved and forth as Valli smoothly sang the classic tune.
A saxophone solo serenaded the audience, performed by Rick Keller. The three solo performances by Robby Robinson really highlighted the musical prowess that helped thrust The Four Seasons into fame. Robinson is the keyboard and musical director for Valli's shows. More than that, though, Robinson is someone Valli considers to be his best friend, with a 40-year bond between the two.
Valli and The Four Seasons began much of the show energizing the crowd from hit to hit. During the second half of the performance, Valli was interactive with the audience on stage. The biggest cheers might have came when he introduced Sopranos star, Paulie Walnuts, Tony Sirico himself. Sirico, sitting the in front row, waved to the crowd as Valli talked about their time on the Italian-American mobster hit show together (Valli played Rusty Millio, the highest-ranking Capo in the Lupertazzi crime family).
His polite demeanor was a throwback to the days back when, introducing songs by saying, "It'd be a pleasure to play this for you," "If you'd be interesting in listening..." and "I'd love to perform this song for you." Valli, 84, also turned jokes on himself. When promoting his CDs, Valli said "I'd tell you the price, if I only had my glasses."
Valli also joked that they were going to slow it down because "I need it."
Valli, is in the midst of a nationwide tour, keeping his energy up and crowds rockin' all across the U.S.A. If you missed him this go around, don't worry. He will be back for another pair of classic nights at Hard Rock come August.