ATLANTA -- Atlanta's Grammy Award-Winning orchestra was chosen to premiere Windborne Music's new U2 Tribute concert Saturday, June 21 at Chastain Amphitheatre. Brent Haven is the musical genius behind this rock/symphonic collaboration and conducted the combined forces of the ASO and a five-piece rock band, with outstanding frontman Brody Dolyniuk.
The ASO had previously premiered Windborne's "Music of Led Zeppelin," and Haven is the mastermind and composer of similar greatest hits franchises with other luminaries of rock. He is a commercial juggernaut, having written for Hollywood and every major television station -- even ESPN and cartoons. He loves bridging the divide between devotees of classical symphony and rock music. Judging by the enthusiasm of the crowd, it was Mission Accomplished.
Dolyniuk was a longtime Vegas singer who can imitate many of the greats of popular music. His career began as a piano man, and a chance meeting with the greatest of all piano men, Elton John, inspired him to form Yellow Brick Road, a tribute band.
They enjoyed so much success, staying solidly booked, that he branched out with Queen, The Who and Pink Floyd. Now he also wears the hats of producer, impresario, and session musician.
Although he said that Bono's voice has been the most difficult to approximate, he provides a solidly satisfying facsimile. The show commenced with "Vertigo," with the orchestra adding power and nuance to the Windborne group.
Brody led us in the first singalong of the evening, "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and Brent turned and directed those of us in the seats. It was sublime to hear the added heft of the ASO brass, with clarion-clear top notes provided by Principal Trumpet Stuart Stephenson, and muscular infrastructure by Michael Moore, Principal Tuba.
The greatest highlight of the evening was after the intermission. Nine-year old ginger-haired Charlie Kirby strode confidently out, and did a bang-up job of conducting with what appeared to be a wand from Hogwarts. He was gifted with a set of drumsticks before he left the stage by drummer Powell Randolph to thunderous applause.
"See how easy it is?" quipped Haven. Dolyniuk announced that the boy had won a contest on the radio. "And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it's important to listen to the radio! You can't win if you don't enter!"
A bit of fun transpired when Brody asked a stage hand for an A-flat harmonica. One was produced, but he said it wasn't the right one, so they started into Bo Diddley's "Desire" anyway, with his holding his hands over his mouth and making the wah-wah noises. I thought he was just putting us on, but just as they finished the song, the errant mouth harp was located. He asked the musicians if they could just give him a few bars, and he did a great job.
After a non-stop barrage of hits: "Beautiful Day," "New Year's Day," "Angel Of Harlem," "Mysterious Ways," and "Walk On," and "In The Name Of Love," Dolyniuk bid us "Good night!" and he and Haven walked off the stage, but the orchestra remained in their seats and the rest of the rock band stood their ground, and George Cintron (on lead guitar) gestured for us to keep up the applause.
After a suitable interval, Haven retook the podium, Brody brought back his mike and they slayed us with "Sunday Bloody Sunday." I left hoping that Haven, Dolyniuk, et al make us at least an annual stop on their global tours.