Sources: Masslive – By Clifton Noble | All Things Michael
Some 1,439 Michael Jackson fans from age 9-94 joined the Springfield Symphony, the Jeans ‘n Classics Band, and vocalist Gavin Hope Saturday evening in a high-energy survey of the King of Pop’s musical legacy.
Hope earned his buck, both vocally and choreographically, channeling the “gloved one” from the innocent, chirpy Jackson Five days of “Rockin’ Robin,” “A B C” and “I Want You Back” to the dark, throaty whisper of “Beat It,” and “Thriller.”
Hope’s falsetto never failed him, though it was sometimes covered in the mix. As he noted, not all the arrangements were in Michael’s keys (many were a third or so lower than the originals) but he took justifiable pride in singing “Ben” in the original key – no mean feat for a 40-year-old.
Throughout the show, Hope gyrated across the stage with irrepressible joy.
“Even if I sprain my pancreas, I’m gonna get down tonight,” Hope quipped, and he delivered, though driving numbers like “Workin’ Day and Night,” and “Rock With You” left him breathing hard.
He wasn’t the only one dancing. Jackson wannabes from all walks of life felt free to take to the aisles of Symphony Hall and moonwalk, bop, and stumble along to the infectious grooves emanating from the stage.
Instrumental in laying down those grooves were Jeans ‘n Classics bassist Mitchell Tyler, guitarist Dave Dunlop, and drummer Steve Heathcote. Dunlop earned a boisterous ovation, tearing off the Eddie Van Halen solo from “Beat It” on a Fender Telecaster. Keyboardist John Regan and backing vocalists Andrea Koziol, Lis Soderberg, and Katalin Kiss, rounded out the Jeans ‘n Classics lineup.
Conductor Nick Palmer led the Springfield Symphony through the Jeans ‘n Classics arrangements, some of which made better use of Springfield’s fine orchestra than others, but all of which were tightly, expertly executed. The lighter-waving (or rather, cell-phone-waving) ballad “I’ll Be There” integrated the orchestra most skillfully and completely, but other numbers employed the instrumentalists in more than sustained chords.
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