John Lloyd Young is known for his star-making role as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. Playing the original cast is a big deal for us Broadway lovers, yet, last night, was not about show tunes as much as love songs. Like many before, Young is going from Broadway star to his own, and that means he dedicating his time and voice to the music that moves him. At Cafe Carlyle, the audience got to meet Young as an artist with charisma, friendliness, and a supernatural vocal range that really made his show’s title, Here For You, feel sincere.
Yes, Young did “Sherry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”, to the crowd’s immense glee, but it was the multiple layers he revealed to his voice and likings that moved me most. First, did I mention he can SING! Whether his vocals are low and glazed with a light rasp or piercing and potent like a wine glass, there was not one song that was sung without a sense of fullness. Young definitely brings a hint of theatricality to his style, but it is subtle and nuanced. Instead, he meets each track with the emotionality it deserves and makes its original writers/singers proud. Songs such as “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney and “Say No More” by Roy Orbison were felt among viewers for their love and vulnerability. Young sings songs to bring out a newness to them, as if when he sings there is something fresh to discover. Maybe, a hidden fruit that has been placed amongst the lyrical themes and vocal notes of his performance, which, again, deeply impressed the crowd.
Young appears like a man of the world. He enters and performs, for the most part, with his sunglasses on; making him fit right into suave tracks like “Spy” by Jim Morrison and “Slow Dawn Calling”, which is an original he introduced. Amongst his many covers were songs that he wrote with Grammy-nominated pianist, Tommy Faragher, who accompanies him on the Carlyle stage. His originals feel as classic as the songs he covered, and fit perfectly well with the timeless idea that love conquers all, even your own insecurities. He furthered the notion of him as a “worldly man” by talking abut his work on Capital Hill promoting funds for the arts, saying “Hi” to his many accomplished friends in the crowd, and altogether lacing viewers with his charm that, by the end of the night, made you feel like you knew him. Young is greatly interpersonal and brings back that “Rat-Pack” charm, where men in fine suits would banter with the audience with a level intimacy and humor. In addition, Young’s cover of “Usted” by Gabriel Ruiz was phenomenal. I will be bold and say it was Luis Miguel- good, which is a high honor.
John Lloyd Young and Cafe Carlyle have made the perfect, artistic “marriage”. The luxurious lounge filled with pastel paintings of some of its old patrons like, Bobby Short, was perfect for Young’s bright personality. He is a man that seems accessible and prominent, which is fantastic for the cabaret world. You both want to meet him, and feel like, when you do, you are meeting an immeasurable talent and human being. John Lloyd Young will be performing his show, Here For You, at the Cafe Carlyle stage from February 14 – 25. Click Here to buy tickets and learn more about he Cafe Carlyle.