Rockin’ Orchestra – Music of Paul McCartney (review)

Rockin’ Orchestra – Music of Paul McCartney – Schuster Center, Dayton, OH (10/18/13):

The 4th year of the Dayton Philharmonic’s Rockin’ Orchestra kicked off with Live and Let Die, the Symphonic Tribute to Paul McCartney – it turned out to be one of the finest shows in the entire history of the series.

Everything about this show was fantastic.  Tony Kishman had the lead role, handling the vocals and instrumentation of McCartney – no easy task for anyone.  Yet, he took on the part with the reverence of a true fan.  Kishman sounded like Paul (there were certain portions of the concert where I had to tell myself that this WASN’T McCartney), and he was able to hit the high notes that Sir Paul can’t hit anymore. He also had a lot of Paul’s banter down – faux British accent and all.  Yet, it never  bordered on cheesy – it was a loving tribute.

The evening kicked off with a truncated version of “Band on the Run,” before segueing into the obvious opener “Hello Goodbye.”  The show was equal parts McCartney solo and classic Beatles songs.  It was presented in a way that, if you preferred either one, it didn’t matter, because one of your favorites was coming up next.  “Listen to What the Man Said” featured some fine sax work, while the orchestra really shone brightly on “Silly Love Songs.”  Kishman is a great showman, and got the crowd on their feet and screaming during “I Saw Her Standing There.”  “Penny Lane” had some crazy-high trumpet parts, “Eleanor Rigby” was eerie and beautiful with a full orchestra, while “Live and Let Die” was sheer bombast, one of the show’s highlights.

Obvious choices like “The Long & Winding Road” and “Let it Be” were peppered in with some real surprises – the acoustic “Bluebird” (an album track from Band on the Run) was gorgeous, while “No More Lonely Nights” was the lone song played from the Eighties.  Kishman also gave his bandmates a chance in the spotlight – letting them sing George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” and John Lennon’s “I Am the Walrus.”  Toward the end of the evening, the band ran through a medley of “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “My Love,” and “Let Em In,” which had a clever arrangement that kept things going.  “Yesterday” had a shocking amount of emotional power with the symphonic accompaniment.

The show came to a close with the “Golden Slumbers Medley” off of Abbey Road, with the classic lines: “And in the end / the love you take / is equal to / the love you make.”  There was even an encore – the crowd rose to their feet for the sing-a-long of “Hey Jude” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

The Dayton Philharmonic sounded incredibly inspired, really adding some rich colors to these fabulous, time-proven classics.

Live and Let Die were a fantastic band – each member held their own weight – great drumming and guitar work especially.  However, the real star was Kishman, who sounded great and really worked the crowd.  Some of these Rockin’ Orchestra shows can seem a little stuffy – this is a venue usually reserved for high-brow listening.  But, the Tribute to Paul McCartney was an absolute blast, easily one of the finest shows of the series’ entire four year history.  –Tony Peters