Landmark’s Executive Director, Sharon Maier-Kennelly, could not have made a better choice to ensure that the closing show of the 2013-14 season would end on a high note – specifically the high tenor of Tony nominee Jarrod Spector. The June 14th performance was well attended by an enthusiastic crowd ranging from young Broadway wanna-be’s to rock band Blue Oyster Cult’s lead singer, Eric Bloom (@eric_bloom), who described Spector as “a singer’s singer.”
Spector himself is attractive, charming, and comes across as incredibly sincere as he spoke of his experiences as a performer, and during his decade-long, 1500-show stint with Jersey Boys.
Saturday’s show, Spector told the audience, was the “Little Help From My Friends” show, and indeed, the first song was a seriously up-tempo version of the Beatles classic. From there, Spector and company ran the gamut, covering artists as diverse as Bruno Mars, Queen, The Beach Boys, Robert Johnson, Billy Joel, Elton John, George Michael, Frankie Valli, and even Jiminy Cricket. Some surprising highlights included the Bee Gees/Yvonne Elliman hit “If I Can’t Have You” from the Saturday Night Fever album, Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” (Spector credits Freddie Mercury as being his favorite singer), and Frankie Valli’s “C’mon Marianne.”
On this, his third appearance at Landmark, Spector regaled the audience with stories throughout the show, including a charming story of coming out of the stage door after Jersey Boys to find four generations of women waiting to talk to him. The youngest was a child, the oldest a great-grandmother. While the grandmother was the Frankie Valli fan, the great-grandmother told him that her love was really opera, and Spector dropped to one knee and broke into Caruso’s signature Donizetti aria “Una Furtiva Lagrima,” after which she soundly kissed him. Spector’s ability to connect with his audience made the show particularly special. (Spector’s “Furtiva” was, by the way, another moving high point of the evening.)
Spector brought with him an ample ensemble. On the Landmark grand piano and also conducting his own arrangements was musical director Adam Ben-David. Integral guitar work was delivered by Aurelien Budynek (Fender Strat and occasional Gibson Les Paul run through floor effects and a Fender Deluxe). Covering percussion drums was Damien Bassman. On bass was Mat Fieldes, and covering vocals were Teresa Gattison, Rachel Stern and Christopher Brassfield. The ensemble’s version of “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” was especially tight and refreshing.
Earlier this year, Broadway Records released Jarrod Spector’s “A Little Help From My Friends: Live At 54 Below,” and fans of the evening’s Landmark performance might want to pick up the CD.
Spector (@jarrodspector) closed the show with a surprising rendition of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” morphing back into a reprise of “A Little Help From My Friends” and left the stage to tumultuous applause. Blue Oyster Cult’s Bloom described the show as “the best 90 minutes I’ve spent in a long time.” The audience certainly seemed to agree.
Reviewed by Ann Latner with “a little help from her friend” Mark Underwood.