John Lloyd Young Back at The Cafe Carlyle

John Lloyd Young

 

By Ron Fassler

 

Returning to his eighth residency at the esteemed Café Carlyle, John Lloyd Young opened a new show last night, scheduled to play through Saturday evening March 2nd. His emphasis on rock and pop classics, mainly from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, should come as no surprise, considering the strong following Young has engendered over the fourteen years since his smashing Broadway debut in Jersey Boys. What is surprising, however, is his inclusion of a smattering of international songs, displaying (what to my ears) sounded like flawless Mandarin and Spanish. I like to be surprised… and mixing it up is always a good thing.

 

The evening was bookended by two of Frankie Valli’s greatest hits (“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Sherry”), the role which brought Young the Tony Award, among other honors. He also sang everything from Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang” to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed”—the only representation of a Broadway show song (that is, if you don’t count the Bob Crewe/Bob Guadio Jersey Boys tunes). Clearly at his most comfortable when rocking and rolling, Young’s ballads had a tendency to get a little too introspective. Closing his eyes and going inward only lessens his emotional range and keeps him from directly being in service to the audience. Connection is key—and that connection is with us. It is here where there is definite room for Young’s exquisite range and falsetto to take things to the next level as he beautifully interprets the lyrics with intelligence that must now speak to our hearts.  

 

There was strong back up by his excellent band, led by music director and arranger, Tommy Faragher. Paul Socolow (bass), Eric Kalb (drums) and Stew Cutler (guitar), who all got chances to shine. In fact, at one point, Young left the stage to these musicians, whose “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was one of the show’s highlights, as was Young’s rendition of the ballad “Usted,” which he sung entirely in Spanish. Written by Gabriel Ruiz, I didn’t understand a word of it, but was able to grasp all its meaning, as Young was able to convey its emotions with tenderness and pitch-perfect vocals. Again, if he were to invest this sort of emotion to more of his choices, most of which he told us were highly personal, then I think the results would be striking. As it is, there is more than enough entertainment in the eighty-minutes John Lloyd Young is performing to make it worth your while to take in this fine singer’s current engagement.

Photos: David Andrako

 

John Lloyd Young is at the Café Carlyle through March 2nd. Reservations can be made by phone at 212-744-1600, or online via https://www.ticketweb.com/.

 

Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).   

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