Promoter: Derek Block
Producer: Dino Buttarazzi
Reviewer: Janet Jepson
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has become a truly legendary band over the years, helped on no doubt by the famous West End musical, Jersey Boys. The story of these young boy musicians from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together through trial, tribulation and true talent is inspirational, and somehow makes their music even more special. The lads mainly sang their own songs but also on occasion covered other people’s, all in their own unique style. Let’s Hang On Limited brings that style back onto the stage, with a musical talent and flair that is unquestionable, even down to some amazing A Capella singing, performed under a streetlamp as the lads did in the ‘50s.
These guys are amazing musicians, delivering perfect renditions of the Frankie Valli hits from 1951 onwards. They don’t attempt to tell his life story and the hits comes along in no particular order, but all the good ones are there – ‘Sherry’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Walk like a man’, ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Fallen Angel’, ‘Who loves you?’, to mention a few. Oh and of course ‘Grease’ is the word straight from Frankie’s famous performance of that title track in 1978. The man himself, born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, is still hale and hearty at the age of 81, still touring, and apparently very appreciative of the performances of this particular tribute band, who he has watched on several occasions.
Robin Maughan is a natural showman and a very believable Frankie, if even shorter in stature. He has a fantastic range to his voice, and his falsetto -achieved by many hours of dedicated training and practice – definitely rivals Frankie’s own. There are some incredible guitar solos by Dino Buttarazzi, who is the producer and the guy who actually formed the band with Martin Peat, another stunning vocalist and a bass guitarist since his early teens. Additional accomplished singing is provided by Jay Harrison, who also plays the full-size grand piano that stands pride of place on the stage. Drums are courtesy of Scott Walker, and Steve Bland leads a trio of trumpeters, who provide a unique sound to several of the numbers. Each of these guys is obviously a skilled musician/vocalist in his own right, but it is as a blend that their true brilliance shows through.
The suits are classic, with jackets changing from black, through blue and red, with a brief white number for Frankie’s rock ‘n’ roll era, and the set is impressive due to coloured lighting and spots that change the atmosphere totally. We move from a calming peaceful green aura through to a dim and moody blue wash, then bright spotlights are picking out the singers and smoke effects are shrouding the background. It all adds to the real magic of the evening. There’s a screen at the back with images fitting the songs and the odd photograph projected onto it adding another focus to the stage.
These guys radiate a feeling that they are truly in their element performing Frankie’s music. They genuinely adore it, and that appreciation shines through, communicating itself to the audience. No one could resist singing along, clapping and swaying. The numbers are so varied, so well-known and so utterly infectious that everyone is compelled to get involved. It is just a shame that more young people don’t come along to seep up this type of music – very few of the audience in Rotherham theatre on the night of the review had any problem remembering the 1960s. A prolific songwriter and talented performer such as Frankie Valli definitely deserves to be remembered and celebrated for many years to come, and tribute bands as good as Let’s Hang On are definitely the ones to promote the memories.
Reviewed on: Saturday 11 July 2015