There was no Purple Rain, but “Bowie Got Soul” drenched a sold-out Chrysler Theatre on Friday night (Feb. 22), with top notch musicianship and incredible songs.
After having the original David Bowie/Prince tribute show squashed due to the ongoing court battle over the estate of Prince, organizers scrambled and put together a revised program featuring a number of soul/RnB songs as well as the featured Bowie numbers. Jeans ‘n Classics and The Windsor Symphony Orchestra performed an outstanding selection of hit music that had the sold out crowd singing and dancing in their seats.
Founded by Peter Brennan 23 years ago, Jeans ‘n Classics works with over 100 orchestras throughout North America and has created almost 1,000 original rock and pop orchestrations presented across 45 unique productions. The goal has always been to bring new and younger audiences to symphony orchestras across North America. Considering the longevity of Jeans ‘n Classics and the wide variety of shows they perform, I would say it’s been quite a success.
Friday evening’s show opened with WSO conductor Daniel Wiley walking to his podium with a red David Bowie wig and red lightning bolt makeup from the iconic Aladdin Sane album cover, much to the delight of the packed theatre. The evening began with David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel sung by long time Jeans ‘n Classics vocalist Jean Meilleur. While telling the audience that they’re not a tribute act and they perform their interpretations of the artist’s songs, Meilleur was able to capture Bowie’s tone and vocal inflections with incredible accuracy. Speaking between songs, Meilleur talked a little about each song, relating stories about the writing of the song and where Bowie was at that particular stage in his life and even how the songs affected him as a young man hearing them for the first time.
One particular favorite of mine, Starman, sounded exquisite with the orchestral arrangement. It’s obvious that much thought went into the choosing of songs to write orchestration for and the results were stunning. The last two Bowie covers were an interesting choice, All The Young Dudes which was written by Bowie for Mott the Hoople and became a big hit for them, and China Girl, which was written by Iggy Pop for Bowie and became a big hit as well.
The soul half of the night’s performance was covered by singer Gavin Hope, also known as a member of Canadian a cappella group “The Nylons”. Hope is a baritone/tenor/bass, and his vocal range is phenomenal, making him the perfect choice to sing a variety of RnB hits from Earth Wind and Fire’s “September” to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and Luther Vandross “A House Is Not A home”. Not only is Hope an amazing vocalist, he also has some great dance moves and a comedic timing that had the audience in stitches through most of his performance. He knew how to get the crowd’s attention, flirting and teasing with the audience, he started a few bars of “Sexual Healing” only to say, “We’re not doing that one tonight!” and launching into “What’s Goin On”. His killer vocals and dance moves along with hilarious faces and comedic comments had the ladies next to me howling with delight.
Both singers returned to perform an encore song. Gavin Hope performed Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” while Jean Meilleur performed a rousing version of Bowie’s “Suffragette City”.
Jeans ‘n Classics boasts a large crew of top notch musicians and singers to handle the multitude of shows performed. The Windsor show featured founder Peter Brennan on guitar, Mitch Tyler – bass, Jeff Christmas – drums, Windsor native Don Paulton – keys, and backing vocalists Katalin Kiss and Lis Soderberg. Jeans ‘n Classics shows are a must see, and you can find out more on their website at www.jeansnclassics.com . To learn more about Windsor Symphony Orchestra and to see a schedule of shows or to find out how you can support WSO visit www.windsorsymphony.com.
- Rebel Rebel
- Let’s Dance
- Blue Jean
- Ashes to Ashes
- Earth, Wind & Fire – September
- Gnarls Barclay – Crazy
- The OJays – Backstabbers
- Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On
- Outkast – Hey Ya
- Space Oddity
- All The Young Dudes
- China Girl
- Pharrell Williams – Happy
- The Spinners – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love
- Luther Vandross – A House Is Not A Home
- The Trammps – Disco Inferno
- Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror
- David Bowie – Suffragette City