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Regional Reviews: Phoenix

John Lloyd Young in Concert
Arizona Musicfest
Review by Gil Benbrook

Also see Gil's review of The Hello Girls

John Lloyd Young
Photo Courtesy of John Lloyd Young / Arizona Musicfest
While he may only have one Broadway credit to his name, John Lloyd Young's performance as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys earned him Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Theatre World awards, the only time someone won all four for their Broadway debut. He also reprised his role in the film adaptation. Young's clear voice has a beautiful range and his recent concert performance at Arizona Musicfest was chock full of classic pop songs from the 1950s and '60s, including several made famous by Valli and the Four Seasons and featured in Jersey Boys.

Anyone who saw Young on Broadway or in the Jersey Boys film knows that he has a gorgeous falsetto that is on par with what Valli's was like in his younger days. While there were a few numbers in the concert that allowed Young to display his falsetto, what was most amazing was the range he showed in song styles and how his rich and powerful tenor voice gives him the ability to smoothly and effortlessly deliver rewarding renditions of these classic pop tunes. He mentioned that he was raised listening to Sinatra, but after becoming known for playing Valli he's often asked to sing songs from other performances from the period. He covered several of these songs on his album "My Turn" and also featured many of them in the concert.

Young was accompanied by a three-piece band led by his musical director Tommy Faragher, and this concert had been rescheduled after being cancelled in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19. Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes" gave Young a few chances to show off his falsetto, starting the concert off in a highly upbeat manner. This was followed by the first Four Seasons song in the concert, "Oh What a Night," which Young delivered in buoyant fashion. Other selections included a driving performance that brought out the anguish in "Hurt So Bad" (originally recorded by Little Anthony), a fun doo wop version of "In the Still of the Night," and a lovely take on Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely," which featured clear, sustained high notes. Also included were the blues ballad "Since I Fell for You" and a wonderful delivery of "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me."

He mentioned that his mother passed away when he was very young and that he decided to record "My Prayer" (made famous by The Platters) for his album, even though he wasn't that familiar with it, and when he played it for his father, he discovered it was the song his parents would slow dance to before he was born. Other emotionally infused songs in the concert included a beautiful rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," which featured a slightly more introspective opening from how Valli sang the song, that ended the first half of the show. Young's act two opener was another Four Seasons hit, "Walk Like a Man," that gave him several moments to let his falsetto shine.

He said that, since "My Eyes Adored You" wasn't a solo number in Jersey Boys, he didn't sing it in his concerts, but when he realized it was originally a Frankie Valli solo song, he decided to "take it back" by performing it in his concerts. His delivery of the romantic tune exhibited a beautiful range. The first song Valli recorded when he was just 15 and another song Young hasn't sung in concerts before is "My Mother's Eyes," which ended with a beautiful sustained high note.

While almost all of the songs were well known by any fan of '50s and '60s pop, the set list included a gorgeous version of a lesser-known tune, Roy Orbison's "Say No More," which Orbison recorded but never officially released. Young spoke about the charity work he'd done, including a trip to Cuba where he met Smokey Robinson, and Young's delivery of Robinson's hit "Ooo Baby Baby" was impressive. He also sang a beautiful and soulful version of the Al Wilson classic, "Show and Tell." The concert concluded with a driving and gorgeous version of "Unchained Melody" before an encore of "Cara Mia" and a fun pairing of two Four Seasons hits, "Working My Way Back to You" and "Sherry," which made for a crowd-pleasing finale.

Young infuses every song with emotion and ensures the meaning of each lyric resonates. He also has a wonderful connection to the audience and his song selection shows the versatility of his voice. It took John Lloyd Young an almost two year delay to make his Arizona Musicfest debut, but it was well worth the wait.

John Lloyd Young performed on January 10, 2022 at the Arizona Musicfest in Scottsdale AZ. Information for upcoming Arizona Musicfest concerts can be found at