An Experience of Two Cultural Minds

The TBSO Meets Pink Floyd

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Story by Michelle McChristie
Photos by Darren McChristie

 

“Sit back and enjoy the experience and let it flow over you,” said lead vocalist Jean Meilleur before Jeans ‘n Classics and the TBSO launched into Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The November 30 concert was a special presentation by the TBSO thanks to combined genius of conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser and Jeans ‘n Classics founder Peter Brennan. Since founding the group in the early 1990s, Brennan has transformed Jeans ‘n Classics from a one-off concert experiment to an ensemble of 29 people presenting 45 different pop/rock productions with over 80 orchestras worldwide, to some 200,000 people annually.

The first half of the show featured eight selections from Pink Floyd’s 1979 release The Wall. Standout performances included Merrie Klazek’s trumpet solo on “Goodbye Blue Sky,” and Don Paulton’s wailing vocals on “Run Like Hell.” Paulton (keyboard/vocals with Jeans ‘n Classics) last performed in Thunder Bay with Lighthouse and referenced foggy memories of playing gigs at places like the Landmark Inn. The set ended with a mesmerizing arrangement of “Comfortably Numb” featuring Timothy Borton on xylophone, Aaron MacDonald on sax and Dave Dunlop on guitar. With the auditorium overflowing with sound, the audience was satiated and rose to their feet for a standing ovation at the end of the set.

Meilleur introduced the performance of Dark Side of the Moon as “an experience of two cultural minds—the rock band and the symphony—meeting together.” The chemistry created by the nine members of Jeans ‘n Classics and the TBSO was electrifying, particularly Katalin Kiss’ vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky.” In earlier performances of Dark Side of the Moon, Brennan did not include “Any Colour You Like” because he wasn’t happy with the orchestration, stating that, “sometimes that happens, where something was perfect and maybe should be left alone.” Brennan has since reworked the arrangement and the new addition, like the others, was superb.

There was definitely more hooting and whistling at this show than a typical TBSO performance—the crowd was exuberant and encouraged a two-song encore featuring “On the Turning Away” and “Wish You Were Here.” As the final chord reverberated, Brenner and Bartholomew-Poyser turned to one another with a smile, knowing they had created magic.

 

Jeans ‘n Classics Band Members

Peter Brennan – Guitar

Jeff Christmas – Drums

Dave Dunlop – Lead Guitar and Vocals

Katalin Kiss – Backup Vocals

Jean Meilleur – Lead Vocals

Aaron Macdonald – Sax and Penny Whistle

Don Paulton – Keys and Vocals

Leah Salomaa – Backup Vocals

Mitch Tyler – Bass
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