Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 9, 2015

The Music of Michael Jackson

Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield, MA
February 7, 2015
by Eric Sutter

Guest conductor Nick Palmer orchestrated the SSO to "The Music of Michael Jackson" from the Jeans 'n Classics Group who were Dave Dunlop (guitar), Steve Heathcore (drums), John Regan (keyboards), Mitch Taylor (electric bass) and backing vocalists Katalin Kiss, Andrea Koziol, and Lis Soderberg.

Lead vocalist Gavin Hope sang everything from early million sellers "ABC,""I Want You Back," and "I'll Be There" to "Billie Jean" from the biggest selling album of all time "Thriller." The amazingly versatile band proved it could handle the soul-pop of "Never Can Say Goodbye," the slow ease ballad "Ben," and the finger poppin' R&B of "Rockin' Robin." The slower numbers allowed for peaceful audience cell phone wave participation. On a high note, the first half ended with "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" from Michael Jackson's 1979 solo album "Off The Wall."

The Rock 'n' Soul of "Working Day and Night" got the Symphony's horns pumped to the groove. The taut, confrontational funk of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" had vocalist Hope making familiar MJ gestures. Good dancing revved up with "Beat It" rock dalliances. Dunlop provided crystalline brilliance in his rhythm-friendly percussive attack on his sizzling lead guitar solo. The sparkle and zing of "The Way You Make Me Feel" kept the audience in song and dance. The warm glow of "Human Nature" was smooth harmony with back-up vocals. Hope had the audience palms up again with peace waving zest.

Hope and company closed on the strength of "Thriller" with its crisply articulated rap of the Vincent Price howling original. The Symphony's strings and percussion performed magnificently on the crescendo. The confessional "Man in the Mirror" became an ideal encore with an exceptionally good vocal by Hope.