Wednesday, March 27, 2013

cabaret review JARROD SPECTOR, McCarter Theatre, March 17

Jarrod Spector racked up an impressive run of over 1,500 performances of playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys on both Broadway as well as the stop of the National Tour of the show in Chicago.  But for all of his Broadway performances he will be the first to admit that he isn't a big musical theatre buff.  So it is no surprise that his solo cd and concerts that he has performed across the country don't have really any showtunes in them but instead focus on rock and pop hits from the 60's to today.  With a rocking band and two backup singers, Spector proves a hip and modern throwback to the entertainers that he idolizes, especially Bobby Darin.

The majority of songs he performed at the McCarter theatre in Princeton come from his recent solo cd "Major Fall, Minor Lift."  This wasn't Spector's first stop at Princeton as this Philadelphia native actually also went to school there.

The show was highlighted by several rocking medleys of classic pop/rock songs including an opening sequence that included a rousing version of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" and a medley of 60's songs that included a stirring take on Buddy Holly's "Everyday."  There were some nice versions of songs that most people love to hate including the Hall and Oates song that was number 1 on the charts the day Spector was born, "Kiss On My List," and the Barry Manilow hit "Even Now."  Spector sang both with conviction and no apology at his love for the material.

While Spector frames the show around his life story, telling us about his stint on Star Search when he was just a very young kid to the breakdown he had when he was in college, he could use a little bit of firming up the point he is trying to get across and editing the story a bit, in order to better connect with the material and the audience.  But the songs he sings and the voice he has to sing them with more then make up for the lack of theme and how his life story relates to the songs he sings. 

His sequence around his Star Search experience included a fun take on Bobby Darin's "Splish Splash."  Other highlights in the set included a rocked out version of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and a stirring take on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."   It was a varied evening for sure, but never once did any of the songs seem out of place, which is something to say when you have hits from Led Zeppelin, Hall and Oates and Barry Manilow almost following right after each other.

A pairing of two Billy Joel songs "Lullabye (Good Night My Angel)" and "River of Dreams" brought the concert to an inspired finish.  Two encores followed including a soft but soaring take on "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables (Spector appeared as Gavrouche in the Broadway production when he was very young) and the only Jersey Boys song in the concert, a lovely version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You."

All in all, Spector knows how to entertain and his soaring voice and excellent band combined for an excellent concert.  Not sure if he's doing any more concerts in the future but if you're a fan of classic pop/rock try not to miss him if he comes to your town.

"Hallelujah" -

"Kiss On My List" -

"Star Search" performance-

"Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" from Jersey Boys:

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