Frankie Avalon, Fabian & Bobby Rydell (concert review)

Golden Boys: Frankie Avalon, Fabian, and Bobby Rydell – Rose Music Center – 8/6/16 (concert review)

A surprisingly satisfying trip down Memory Lane

Honestly, you just don’t know what you’re going to get at a concert these days.  Many artists feel they only have to play 60 minutes, despite the grumblings of fans leaving the venue.  That’s what made the Golden Boys’ concert such a pleasant surprise – a two-hour, fun-filled show from three performers whose average age is 74.

Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell were all teen idols from the 1950’s and early 60’s who all grew up in the same neighborhood in South Philadelphia, and all benefited from heavy exposure on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.  They’ve been touring together as the Golden Boys for over 30 years now.

The trio all came out together to welcome the crowd with the “Bandstand Theme,” then Bobby Rydell got the first spotlight. Despite having recently undergone double transplant surgery (liver and kidney), Rydell’s voice was by far the best of the bunch – still possessing immense power to tackle difficult numbers like “Volare” and “Sway” (both hits originally for Dean Martin).  “Forget Him” showed that he’s still got a deep warmth to his low register, while ”Wild One” was good fun.

Fabian came out next and told the best stories – especially one about meeting Elvis Presley (and giving him a pair of his pants).  He also invited members of the audience on stage to do the Twist to one of his songs, “Tiger,”  while “Turn Me Loose” was the hardest-rocking number of the night.  His self-deprecating humor was in contrast to the other’s more rosy approach.

Frankie Avalon was probably the best overall performer, joking with the crowd, even coming down off the stage into the audience at one point.  He recreated his role of Teen Angel, singing “Beauty School Drop Out” from the musical Grease.  He also paid tribute to his screen partner Annette Funicello with “Beach Blanket Bingo.”  His voice still sounded great with his signature hit, “Venus.”

One of the biggest surprises of the night was when Avalon introduced Edan Everly, son of Don, who was playing guitar in the show.  Edan’s voice was incredibly similar to his dad’s while he and Avalon ran through Everly standards “Bye Bye Love,” “All You Have to Do Is Dream” and “Wake Up Little Susie.”

If you really think about it, the three performers had only a handful of really great singles.  Cleverly, they used the concert as a celebration of all the music of the 1950’s: Fabian played Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy,”  while Frankie Avalon did “California Sun” and a medley of “Witch Doctor,” “Yakety Yak,” and “Charlie Brown.”

Toward the end of the evening, all three performers again took the stage to do a tribute to their idols.  Avalon did Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou,” Fabian rocked through Elvis’ “Hard Headed Woman,” while Rydell did a fantastic job with Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife.”  Then, all three combined for Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.”  The set closed with a medley of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” and the Righteous Brothers’ “Rock n’ Roll Heaven,” then, a snippet of the “Mickey Mouse Club Theme.”

Plenty of familiar hits, some funny jokes, and lots of memories – the Golden Boys can still deliver a fantastic evening.  —Tony Peters