Adelaide Fringe

Interview: Ben Francis (Director And Performer Of The 60 Four)

Ben Stefanoff interviews young South Australian entrepreneur, Ben Francis about The 60 Four and their extremely popular concerts

Since 2015, Adelaide audiences have been wowed by the spectacular vocal harmonies and charismatic stage presence of The 60 Four. This four-piece vocal group has risen to fame with their fresh take on the biggest hits from the 1960s and paying tribute to some of the biggest names in the industry: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys and more.

The 60 Four is led by young South Australian entrepreneur, Ben Francis. He recently sat down with me to discuss their upcoming Adelaide Fringe show and how the group was originally formed.

“It’s quite an interesting story. All four of us were at school together at Scotch College and doing a music class with Michael Griffiths. He was teaching us several songs from the musical ‘Jersey Boys’ and myself and the three other boys really liked the music. It was coming up to the 2015 Adelaide Theatre Guide Awards, and we put together a medley of Frankie Valli songs and applied for a performance slot. The night of the awards we got a standing ovation and three job offers in the one night, and thought ‘Wow, maybe this will be something we can continue.’”

The 60 Four is made up of Ben Francis, Lachlan Williams, Kyle Hall and Jack Conroy. I was curious to find out what drew these young performers to the music of the 1960s.

“There’s a couple of things. I think the main one is the beautiful and intricate harmonies that were so prevalent in that era, especially in the Beach Boys and Frankie Valli’s music. Also, it was an era where everyone was really exploring music. If you listen to music today, and anything from after the 60s, you can tell so much of it was grounded in the structures that were formed in the 60s. So, I think it was quite a big shift in the 60s, which is why we really enjoy it.”

Over the last five years, The 60 Four has grown bigger than Ben ever expected it to be.

“We started it as a bit of fun and because we loved the music but the fact we’ve been able to keep doing it five years later and do all these sell-out shows – it has been lovely to see that there is such a captive audience. The audiences are so amazing as they love the music and the era just as much as us, so it’s such fun to perform.”

With the four members of The 60 Four spread across the country, I was keen to find out how they have found the rehearsal process for their upcoming shows.

“It’s been impossible! A lot of it we originally tried to do on Zoom at the end of 2020. The last time we were all in the same state was our Fringe performance in March 2020. We haven’t actually seen each other since then. Kyle went to Sydney over Christmas, so due to the shut down there, our scheduled rehearsal time over the break became one week. We’ve added 8 to 10 new songs to our upcoming Adelaide Fringe show this year to keep it different. We’ve had one week of intensive rehearsals together, but the main process will happen in the days leading up to the show.”

On Saturday 13 March and Sunday 14 March, The 60 Four will be presenting their new show, The 60 Four: In Concert.

“We have a brilliant nine-piece band, and we are heading into more of a Juke-Box style this year. It will be two hours of solid music, featuring all of our favourite songs that we’ve done over the last five years, and I think they will be the audience’s favourite songs as well.

“Due to COVID-19, we haven’t had the performance opportunities that we usually have throughout a year, so there will be this pent-up energy ready to be released when we hit the stage. Not only have we not had the chance for the four of us to catch up as friends, but we haven’t been able to perform together, so we are really looking forward to that.”

The 60 Four will be appearing in concert for two performances only at this year’s Adelaide Fringe. Saturday 13 March at 8pm and Sunday 14 March at 2pm at the Norwood Concert Hall. Bookings through FringeTix at https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/the-60-four-in-concert-af2021

NEWS FLASH – Both of these performances have SOLD OUT! However, an extra performance has been added: Sunday 14 March at 8pm but hurry before this one sells out too!

Interviewed by Ben Stefanoff

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