Malcolm X Abram of the Cleveland Beacon Journal reports that "the Akron Symphony Orchestra collectively loosened its tie Sunday night with 'The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony' (see previous story) and was rewarded with rock-star treatment from an enthusiastic audience.
"For two-plus hours, E.J. Thomas Hall was transformed into a rock arena as the orchestra took a trip through the legendary rock band's catalogue with the help of a three-piece rock band and Randy Jackson, former lead singer of '80s rockers ZEBRA.
"The melding of rock brawn and symphonic beauty often sounds forced and heavy handed (see METALLICA's 'S&M'). Guest conductor/arranger Brent Havens avoided the usual sonic train wreck by allowing the rhythm section and Jackson to essentially re-create ZEPPELIN songs. The orchestra added color or beefed up melodies and riffs on the heavy tunes such as the opening 'Whole Lotta Love' and 'Heartbreaker'. On the softer songs, including a lovely arrangement of the 'Rain Song' and 'Going To California', Havens used the string section as an unobtrusive melodic counterpoint or to re-create the parts John Paul Jones used to perform on the mellotron and other now-ancient keyboards.
"Jackson, acting as Robert Plant's stand-in and the evening's host, did a solid job of imitating Plant's odd phrasing and unique wail, even reproducing many of Plant's well known ad-libs. But at times he sounded as if his larynx might fly out of his nasal passages while reaching for some of the high notes." Read more.