Louisville Orchestra POPS: The B-52s with the Louisville Orchestra
Bob Bernhardt, conductor
Review by Shaun Kenney
Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Shaun Kenney. All rights reserved
The B-52s have been considered one of the world’s greatest party bands since their first single, “Rock Lobster”, in 1979 and they are still going strong, this time with the Louisville Orchestra as their backup.
This was by far the quirkiest and most bizarre combination I’ve seen on the stage at Whitney Hall. When I think of the music of the B-52s it’s not a sound I think sits well against an orchestral backdrop. This being said, I admittedly went into the concert a bit of a skeptic and I’m sorry to say that I left feeling the same way.
Don’t get me wrong – the performance by the B-52s was very entertaining. I’d never seen them live before and I loved the energy and enthusiasm that they brought to the stage, as did a large portion of the audience. This is definitely the first time I’ve seen people dancing in their seats and in the aisles at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. The orchestra itself was also fantastic, when you could hear them over the drums, electric guitars, electric bass, and high-pitched vocals of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, and sprechgesang of Fred Schneider. For me, the sound of the band was just incongruous with that of the orchestra, who the band kept mistakenly referring to as The Louisville Symphony.
This was true with the exception of the band’s three iconic songs, “Roam,” “Loveshack,” and the aforementioned “Rock Lobster.” These numbers worked for me. The orchestra helped create a deep, rich foundation with which the band’s instrumentals and vocals seamlessly intertwined. These performances were definitely the highlights of the evening.
Something else that I found odd was the fact that the orchestra sat out on a majority of the numbers. Whether this was a choice by the band or the simple fact that a collaboration just didn’t work with some of their music, I’m not sure. I’ve been to other pops concerts, The Indigo Girls with the Louisville Orchestra for example, where I seem to remember the orchestra playing a part in the entire performance, beautifully augmenting the artist’s work. The orchestra not playing for many of the songs only seemed to illuminate the fact that this was a combination that, for the most part, just didn’t work.
The B-52’s with the Louisville Orchestra
October 21, 2017
Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
Shaun Kenney studied Music Education and Instrumental at Campbellsville University. In Louisville, he has worked with Finnigan Productions since its inception, as Stage Manager, Sound Designer, and Director.