by MIKE CHAIKEN
Other generations had Bach, Brahms, Mozart, and Beethoven serving as their “classical music.”
In the 21st century, the “classical music” is really “classic rock.”
Say hello to the music of The Beatles, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Styx and Kansas.
To celebrate the new generation of “classical music,” the Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra is performing at Foxwoods Resort Casino three times over the next couple of months. On Feb. 17, URO celebrates the Brits. On March 9 and 10, they pay homage to the Yanks. And on April 6 and 7, the Thin White Duke—David Bowie—gets the URO treatment.
Sal Clemente, the leader of the Massachusetts-based band, said when Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra started to perform, they figured they’d be one of many bands taking this classic rock approach—where the music was key minus the costumes. But he said they were surprised by how few acts put the focus on the music rather than trying to emulate the acts they perform.
There clearly was a vacuum that needed filling, said Clemente.
“We weren’t ready for the response from audiences,” said Clemente. And it was all positive.
“It’s really about the music,” said Clemente of the Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra concept.
Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra’s approach is likely to become the way most people will hear this classic rock in the future, said Clemente. Just like you can’t see Mozart or Beethoven live in concert any more, and you have to experience the music as interpreted through today’s symphonies, the case will soon be true for classic rock.
The icons of classic rock already are fading away, said Clemente. Audiences can no longer see the Beatles as they were. Freddie Mercury of Queen is dead and no one can sing the music of Queen like he did. And the Who is not the same band as it was when it Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, the late John Entwistle and the late Keith Moon filled its ranks.
“Soon it’s going to be impossible for anyone to see the original artists,” said Clemente.
Just like the classical music of the masters, Clemente said classic rock survives because that was a moment in time when rock and roll had reached its pinnacle as an art form.
Clemente said the musicians in those classic bands often would often play off against each other to create their sound. They also would pull in musical touches from external sources. For instance, The Beatles and Queen often used old time vaudeville music to infuse their songs, he said. Led Zeppelin often drew from the Delta blues.
Also, said Clemente, “What’s surprising is how young these guys were and how fearless they were… They were breaking new ground.” Everything post 1968-1972, said Clemente, has served as the seed for most everything that came after in rock and roll.
“Right now we’re at a time where the next thing hasn’t come along,” said Clemente of the music scene in 2018. Hip hop and today’s pop music lack the same power of those classic rock songs, he said.
Asked about his favorite song to perform on stage, right now, Clemente offered up a surprising choice. He said he loves performing Queen’s theme song from the movie, “Flash Gordon.” URC performs the song with all sorts of special effects and snippets of dialogue from the film.
Additionally, Clemente loves performing Bowie’s “Young Americans.” He explained, “It’s got a great groove and tremendous vocals.”
Another favorite is “All the Young Dudes,” which was written by Bowie, but is best known in the version recorded by Mott the Hoople, said Clement. “It’s a blast.”
The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra show is a perfect one for the entire family, said Clemente. “It’s a clean night. There’s nothing untoward. There are no go-go dancers.” It’s also a great opportunity for the older generation to share this music with a new generation, said Clemente.
“It’s a really fantastic bunch of songs by bands that are rally universally loved,” said Clemente. “It’s really high energy rock and roll experience.”
The Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra performs in the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, April 6 and 7 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $35.
For more information, go to www.Foxwoods.com or www.ultrarockorchestra.com