Tag: Hugo BOSS
Midtown Men pay handsome musical homage to the 1960s
By Lawrence Toppman
Posted: Friday, Nov. 01, 2013
The Midtown Men – a strange name, but apt. They strike a balance between uptown suavity (Hugo Boss suits, their website says) and a bit of downtown funkiness, when their 1960s songbook ventures toward Detroit. And they made their names in midtown Manhattan when they met in the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys” eight years ago.
The close-harmony quartet joined the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Friday night for They’ve sung together as Midtown Men for six years, and they know exactly how to handle a crowd. I would guess the lone moment of spontaneity came when a singer knocked over a stool in the first half (and ad-libbed smoothly), but that makes their energy and commitment even more impressive. To run a musical express train night after night is no easy task.
They work the “Jersey Boys” angle ceaselessly: in anecdotes, reminiscences about cast members, reminders that the musical and its cast album won Tony and Grammy awards. Slightly less than half the musical material in this show comes from “Jersey Boys,” from the opening “Let’s Hang On”/Working My Way Back to You” medley to the second encore of “Bye Bye Baby.”
The Four Seasons weren’t known for slow material, and their philosophy affects this concert. In the first half, midtempo tunes such as “Up on the Roof” and “Time of the Season” slow the pace briefly, but we don’t really get a quiet ballad until well after intermission: “My Eyes Adored You,” arranged for all four to sing rotating leads in a version that surpasses the original in tenderness. (Heresy, I know.)
Michael Longoria doesn’t do a mere Frankie Valli impression in the Four Seasons numbers: His raspy falsetto and note-bending style make him his own man. The unusual thing about Midtown Men is that all the guys can blend, but all can be solid soloists: Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer each capably carry a song every three or four numbers. (None has a voice lower than baritone, though, so all the harmonies are high.)
They brought their own combo, headed by pianist/arranger George Maurer, but his arrangements treated the Charlotte Symphony as more than a beefy string section. The orchestra and buoyant conductor Albert-George Schram brought sonic splendor to “Dawn,” and even Tina Turner would have enjoyed the grandeur of “River Deep, Mountain High.” (On the other hand, a hyperinflated “Big Girls Don’t Cry” sounds overblown.)
The listing on the Blumenthal Performing Arts website isn’t quite accurate: The Midtown Men don’t do songs by the Beach Boys, and some tunes don’t come from the 1960s. They do perform a Motown medley, as advertised, and prove middle-aged white guys in matching gray suits can have their own kind of soul.
Click here for tickets to Saturday night’s show (Nov 2, 8pm at Belk Theatre, Charlotte.)
This fantastic review of “All Alone On Christmas” on the myfizzypop blog is so much fun – a MUST READ! Thank you Paul!
11 days til Christmas: The Midtown Men ~ All Alone on Christmas
Posted by Paul on December 14, 2012
There is so much joy and goodness wrapped in today’s festive song choice that I’m positively percolating at the seasonal charm of it all! There are 2 lots of background you need to be aware of – most importantly of course are The Midtown Men themselves. The four fellas who make up this sixties music loving group are original stars from the massive stage smash “Jersey Boys” – Christian, Michael, Daniel and J.Robert were busy earning accolades when the show first hit Broadway when they decided they loved what they were doing so much that they wanted it to continue. Lucky for us that meant keeping the whole gang together to continue their loving tribute to the sounds that shaped pop music today in the form of the Midtown Men. They have a sparkling album of music out already (see iTunes) delving into the catalogues of The Beach Boys, Mamas & Papas, The Turtles, the Four Seasons (of course) & many more. Their voices are utterly irresistable, the harmonies delicious and the delivery passionate, enthusiastic and vibrant. Plus! As their website proudly proclaims, they are all dressed rather nattily in suits from Hugo Boss so you know they are devastatingly debonair!
But what does this all have to do with Christmas I hear you ask (yes even you at the back. I have very good hearing, though crap eyesight!) Well, the blokes have only gone and recorded the amazing Stevie van Zandt penned All Alone On Christmas (which you may well remember featuring prominently – and sung by Darlene Love – in Home Alone 2 and Love, Actually). The original is a rousing, horn infused romp that pays tribute to both the Spector sound of the sixties as well as Darlene’s own Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). The joyous, uplifting instrumental takes the sting out of the lyrics which detail a couple no longer together & the sounds of the season making the split oh so much harder. Weep. The Midtown Men put their own definitive spin on the track with a jingle-bell soundtracked intro that puts out their emotive please that, of course, no one ought to be alone on Christmas. It then launches into a percussive, chime laden, horn saturated backing that acts as the perfect picture frame for their story telling – and oh boy, those voices bring the lyrics into vibrant, vivid focus. Their layered harmonies give the track a heavenly, sumptuous textured feel while individually they ably inject a real pathos, wistfulness yet sense of optimism into the proceedings. It’s these nuanced performances that are both powerful individually & together that make the track such a magnificent success. Their marriage of downbeat lyrics and upbeat instrumental ultimately inspire hope that wherever you are, whoever you are with, people will find a way to share the joy at Christmas. Gorgeous.
The first person to correctly identify each MAN by his footwear will win a Midtown Men tote! The second will win a Midtown Club key chain. (images are a little fuzzy, sorry!)
Image #1 = blue shoes;
Image #2 = red shoes;
Image #3 = boots;
Image #4 = brown shoes
Please click on COMMENTS to post your answers. Good Luck!!
Category: Music Quiz
‘The Midtown Men’ bring retro sound, style to Rudder Auditorium
By ROB CLARK
theeagle.com / Bryan-College Station, Texas
The four performers — J. Robert Spencer, Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria and Daniel Reichard — shared the Jersey Boys stage on Broadway for more than 1,000 shows, telling the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The musical won the 2006 Tony Award for best musical, and the cast recording album won a Grammy.
Along the way, the quartet found interest from corporate and private events, separate from the Broadway stage.
“When we were done doing our three-and-a-half years on Broadway, we continued getting asked to do events,” Spencer says by phone from the group’s van, on the way to a recent Pennsylvania gig. “We just thought there’s a market for this. People know who we are, they know the relevance of who we are and what we originated on Broadway. … It was supposed to be a side gig, and it’s just blossomed organically into this very successful business.
That comes in the form of The Midtown Men, which MSC OPAS presents Thursday and Friday at Rudder Auditorium. It’s not a musical with a storyline, but a concert that features the quartet along with a seven-piece band. The show includes classic songs from the ’60s from such artists as Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys and The Mamas & the Papas. Spencer describes their take on The Beatles’ Can’t Buy Me Love as a “really cool, very horns-y, Vegas kind of arrangement.”
The singers will be decked out in dapper suits provided by sponsor Hugo Boss, which Spencer says adds to the nostalgic appeal.
“You add that flair to what we grew up being inspired by, not just the music but the presence of the 1960s, the entertainers of that era: Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin. Add that with dressing up in great-looking suits, singing the songs of the ’60s, it really combines an eclectic grouping of what and how we perceive the evening to be for these baby boomers. And for their children that they’re bringing to the shows, and their children’s children.”
For a taste, go to themidtownmen.com to see the group’s video for its cover of The Turtles’ Happy Together. It lands between the Rat Pack sensibility and The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night silliness, with retro flavor of the era: dark suits, skinny ties, cocktails in hand, even a stickball street scene. Spencer says that vibe continues through The Midtown Men show.
“It’s the feel-good mentality,” Spencer says. “For that bit of time, you’re taken away and having a little bit of freedom from your day, whatever your day consisted of. … [The audience] is taking away really nice imagery of us onstage, and that combined with our love for each other and our love for what we do is very much resonant to how it was back in the ’60s with those iconic stars. They were having a great time as well.”
Details: MSC OPAS presents The Midtown Men, Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Rudder Auditorium. $29-$78. 845-1234. opas.tamu.edu.
Would you like to see The Midtown Men at the Luhrs Center in Shippensburg, PA this Friday night? Tell us WHY, and you’ll be eligible to win a pair of tickets from The Midtown CLUB!
(Could it be because you love great music? Or because you can’t resist a man clad in Hugo BOSS? Because you think they’re so darned handsome? Or you just don’t have anything better to do? Anything goes!)
Just remember to share your answer as a comment on the CLUB site as well as on Facebook!